Potchefstroom student contracts meningitis, dies

2015-06-15 21:12


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Johannesburg - A Potchefstroom University first year student died on Monday afternoon after contracting meningococcal meningitis, the institution said. 

She lived in the Oosterhof women's residence and as a result, all students there were given a dose of preventive medication, told how the disease spreads, and what to do to prevent it.

“It is incredibly sad to lose such a beautiful person and our hearts go out to her friends and family. We do however want to stress that this is an isolated case, that every possible step has been taken to ensure that the disease does not spread and that there is no meningitis crisis at the Potchefstroom Campus,” campus doctor Emile Kotzé said.

The university said there was no meningitis crisis and that exams would carry on. If anything changed, they would communicate this immediately, and would provide updates.

Students at the residence were receiving counselling.

Professor Herman van Schalkwyk, campus rector, and Professor Dan Kgwadi, Vice-Chancellor expressed their condolences to her family and friends, and asked that they be afforded privacy.

The university provided this fact sheet for students:

Information on Meningitis

What is it?

Meningitis is an infection of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord. Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection and is considered the more dangerous type of meningitis. Increased cases of infection appear during May to August and September. If not treated, it can lead to permanent damage, such as deafness and even death.


- Severe headache

- Nausea and vomiting

- High fever

- Eyes are extremely light sensitive

- Stiff and sore neck

- Untreated symptoms can include convulsions, skin infections and loss of consciousness.

- Meningococcal meningitis spreads by means of drop contamination. The bacteria are conveyed through coughing, sneezing as well as touching contaminated areas and then one’s mouth, nose or eyes.

Easy ways of protecting oneself

- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.

- Do not smoke (it spreads in the smoke you blow out).

- Do not share personal items such as lipstick or lip hydrating cream.

- Do not share ice cream, drinks, food or cutlery.

- Avoid places where large groups of people congest.

- Avoid personal and intimate contact.

Is medication available?

Yes, preventive medication is available. If diagnosed timeously, a patient will recover completely. Should the illness not receive attention, a patient’s symptoms can exacerbate very quickly.

What must I do if I experience the symptoms?

Visit your doctor or local clinic / health care centre immediately.

If tested positive, a patient is hospitalised immediately.

Read more on:    mahikeng  |  health  |  education

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