Stopping the Spread: U of L Health Experts on Preventing Meningitis
By Caitlyn Crenshaw–
With the recent meningitis outbreak spanning across 26 states and the statistic of one out of two people under the age of 25, who are sexually active, have a STI, the definition of healthy and how to live healthy is on the mind of every student.
After federal authorities warned that there may be more tainted drugs related to the outbreak of meningitis, a top medical expert with the CDC said that the health crisis is “nowhere near an end.”
Phillip Bressoud, executive director for the Office of Health Promotions, said, that the outbreak “is related directly to contaminated preservative-free steroids that were injected into patients for the treatment of spine conditions or arthritic conditions.”
The type of fungal meningitis in the recent outbreak is not contagious.
Bressoud said, “The recent Aspergillus meningitis epidemic is a man-made event caused by the lack of quality control.”
Emma Davis, a senior political science and economics major, said, “I feel like there are other precautions and health education things that people could do (other than vaccinations).” When asked if she still felt that vaccines are trustworthy, Davis replied yes.
“Some of the best protection you can get to stay healthy is to get your immunizations up to date and get an annual flu shot,” said Bressoud.
Another important aspect of health in college is sexual health, which can be so often ignored in people under the age of 25.
“My general impression when I talk to students is that they are very surprised that the STI rates area as high as they are,” said Stacie Steinbock, sexual health advisor with the Office of Health Promotions.
Describing the general attitudes of students toward STIs and testing, Steinbock said, “Uninformed. It’s not like people are resistant. People need that information and are really hungry for that information.” Because we live in the age of information, “students use the Internet generally for their sexual health information, and of course, some of it is accurate, and some of it is inaccurate,” said Steinbock.
Steinbock said: “What we know is that 1 out 2 sexually active people under the age of 25 has or have had a STI. That’s huge.”
Bressoud said: “The CDC recommends screening in females 25 years of age or younger, who are sexually active, for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. Routine screening of males 25 year of age or younger isn’t routinely recommended, unless there is a high incidence of Chlamydia in the area/population being treated.”
Concerning sexual health, Davis said, “Most people I know, who are sexually active, are good about that and do have a good attitude about getting tested and their own sexual health.”
Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC’s National Center for STD prevention, said, “Young men and women have to take the responsibility of protecting themselves and their partners, and STD testing is one of the most effective prevention tools available.”
Steinbock said, “I think UofL students have a lot of options when it comes to protecting themselves more effectively against sexually transmitted infections.”
Campus Health Services “offers a range of primary care, psychiatric, counseling and health promotions services,” according to Bressoud. Call the health center at 852-6479 for more information.
The Office of Health Promotions is located in the Sac Annex, next to the Houchens building, and offers programs specific to keeping students healthy through yoga, cooking classes, exercise and more.
Photos: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal