Dr. Raoult Ratard, state epidemiologist, will discuss the recent meningitis outbreak in Lafayette as well as what efforts are underway to prevent future outbreaks, at a public forum sponsored by the University of Louisiana System this Thursday, May 4.

The forum will be held in Baton Rouge, beginning at 9 a.m., at 4849 Essen Lane, in the Southeastern Louisiana University School of Nursing building.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meningitis strikes up to 3,000 Americans every year, but it is preventable through a vaccine.  Up to 15 percent of people with meningitis suffer long-term permanent disabilities including hearing loss, limb amputation or brain damage.  The disease often begins with symptoms that can be mistaken for the common flu, and students who live in dormitories are at increased risk.
According to Ratard, “The outbreak earlier this year at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette illustrates the link between meningitis and college students.  Among other things, we have worked with educators on pending legislation that would require all incoming college students to have the proper vaccinations.”

Ratard will be joined by Dr. Sally Clausen, UL System President; attorney Dianne Irvine of Baton Rouge and Dr. Tina Stefanski, Medical Director for DHH’s Office of Public Health in Lafayette.