Middle Tennessee State University student dies of meningitis

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Jacob Nunley was starting his college career at Middle Tennessee State University when his life was cut short.

He died after contacting bacterial meningitis.

Tennessee universities, including the University of Memphis, do not mandate that students  get inoculated for meningitis, but it is recommended and doctors also agree that is a good idea.

“This is  a disease that has scared people for a long time,” said Dr. Sandy Arnold of Le Bonheur Children’s hospital who specializes in infectious diseases.

When it comes to bacterial meningitis, Dr. Arnold says prevention always works much better than treatment because a teen can get sick with normal cold-like symptoms and the next day be dead, “It can happen so quickly and sometimes there is nothing you can do.”

Just this week, at MTSU, doctors say 18-year old-freshman Jacob Nunley died from the infectious disease.

Dr. Arnold says this bacterial infection is most common in social teens and college students.

“You pick up this bacteria from somebody else because we all share our bacteria with each other,” said Dr. Arnold.  “And its more common to occur in kids who are mixing a lot more with other kids and having closer contact.”

Dr. Arnold says Nunley likely picked up the disease from a carrier of meningitis that wasn’t sick and that’s why she says it’s important for every child to get vaccinated so they can’t spread it or become ill from it.

The vaccine is available for pre-teens 11 and 12 with a booster shot at age 16.

College students living in dorms should be vaccinated as well.

But despite the vaccines effectiveness, Dr. Arnold says only about 30 percent of parents decide to get their children inoculated.

As a mom, she says she hasn’t taken any chances, “I have two children and I vaccinate them against anything that I possibly can.”

WREG Memphis

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