This is a nice little picture, courtesy of (who else) Wikipedia, that shows the "Meningitis Belt" of the world. It looks like we will have to add one more region to that list. I know it will be small and would barely be visible on a World Map, but Athens, Ohio is now part of the fabled Meningitis Belt.
A few days ago, two students on South Green (Be still, Internet, I am on East Green) tested positive for Bacterial Meningitis and were promptly taken to hospitals in Columbus. So now, here we are, living in a Dawn of the Dead-like atmosphere where we walk the streets in fear of encountering a bacteria-carrying Zombie. This has been news for approximately 48 hours and still every time someone coughs in class or says they have a headache, everyone dives in opposite directions like a pin came off a live grenade and yells "MENINGITIS!"
Now, I don't know if this makes me a terrible human being or just a normal one, but my first reaction when I heard that two of my peers had contracted a life-threatening illness wasn't "Oh, I hope they're okay."
My first reaction went a little more like this...
About four or five months ago, I went to our family Doctor, Dr. Brad, for a quick check-up and physical. After all the temperatures, measurements and awkward questions were administered ("No, I'm not surprised that I am technically 'obese', Dr. Brad and yes, I know how to use a condom), the subject of immunization came up.
Dr. Brad has always been good about cutting through the B.S and telling me what he really thinks, even since I was a kid. So when I told him I had gotten all my immunizations aside from meningitis, he wasn't afraid to tell me, ahem, how he felt.
"Look, you need this immunization. I understand you're a grown-up or whatever now and that decision is entirely up to you but I am telling you right now that you need to get it. You are going to an environment (college) that is the absolute paradise for bacteria like meningitis. The chances of you getting Meningitis are about a million to one, but if you do....you are going to die. So seriously, get the vaccine."
Needless to say, I didn't get the vaccine.
So my first reaction to hearing that there was an "outbreak" on campus was: "If I die from this thing, it will be the single greatest I-told-you-so moment in human history." I can only hope that if I do contract this thing and it puts me six feet under, that Dr. Brad will show up to my funeral and spit on my grave. It is really only fair.
Well, I am going to spend the rest of the day in a self-imposed quarantine. Partly because I don't want to become a Meningitis Zombie and partly because I have a couple of more hours of interviews to transcribe. As I write this, we are T-minus 8:46 away from Backdropmag.com being launched. I have now seen the beast and it is grand.
Come back tomorrow when I will become a Company Man and take you through the ins and outs of the Backdrop Website.