A third case of bacterial meningitis has been identified in the Black Hawk County area. Black Hawk County public health director Tom O’Rourke says a 20-year-old male Hawkeye Community College student is in critical condition at University Hospitals in Iowa City, diagnosed as having meningitis. Last week, health officials reported that a 20-year-old female U-N-I student and a 29-year-old female inmate at the Black Hawk County jail had died from the disease. O’Rourke says those cases aren’t likely related to this newest one and this does not classify as an outbreak. O’Rourke says the young man who’s in the Iowa City hospital has the bacterial infection, it’s a different strain than the two cases reported last week, and he says his office has investigated but found no known link among the cases. O’Rourke says last week’s cases were type C meningitis, while the case identified this past weekend is a type B. All three victims have been in their 20s, and O’Rourke says that’s common. O’Rourke says it tends to be a disease found in young people, and the Centers for Disease Control recommends that college students who live in a dorm be vaccinated. He says that’s the reason the military is a big user of the vaccine because troops stay in barracks, housed closely together. For those reasons, the health director is asking folks between 18 and 29 to think about getting vaccinated against the disease. O’Rourke says meningitis is spread by close saliva contact, so you should refrain from sharing a cigarette, eating utensils, or the same water glass. Kissing transmits the bacteria, too. Some of the symptoms include a fever, severe headache, stiff neck or a body rash. There are usually about 30 cases of bacterial meningitis in Iowa each year.
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