State Says Meningitis Threat Has Passed

Officials at the state Department of Public Health have said there is no further danger of exposure to meningitis after a woman who visited the campus the weekend of Oct. 3 died of the disease.

Allyson R. Shumway, 19, a student at Lehigh University, fell ill at her Natick home and died at Newton Wellesley Hospital on Oct. 5. She had been visiting friends at Boston College, where she spent the night Friday after attending a party on campus.

Bacterial meningitis - a rare disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord and can kill within hours if not treated - is communicated through close contact, such as sharing a drink. Though no BC students came into close contact with Shumway, preventative treatment was offered, said Nancy Baker, Health Services associate director for nursing and administration.

"We have liberally provided preventive antibiotic treatment to more than 70 students on campus, not because we felt they required it, but more or less to relieve their anxiety," said Baker, who said the students treated were, by and large, at "very low risk or no risk" of contracting the disease.

On Oct. 10, she added, the DPH announced that any danger to the BC community had passed.

-Mark Sullivan

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