Nova Scotia

Hope Maryka, Acadia University student, hospitalized with meningitis

A female Acadia University student is in hospital recovering from meningococcal meningitis, according to Nova Scotia's chief public health officer, who also revealed Wednesday there had been a fourth case of the disease in the province earlier this year.

Maryka's illness marks 4th case of meningitis confirmed in Nova Scotia in a month

According to Acadia University's website, Hope Maryka is a first-year business administration student who plays rugby. (

A female Acadia University student is in hospital recovering from meningococcal meningitis, according to Nova Scotia's chief public health officer, who also revealed Wednesday there had been a fourth case of the disease in the province earlier this year.

In addition to Hope Maryka — the first-year Acadia University student currently in hospital — Dr. Robert Strang told reporters that a student at St. Francis Xavier University was diagnosed with meningitis in January and has since recovered.

That brings the number of meningitis cases in Nova Scotia to four, so far in 2015.

Strang said he would be travelling to Acadia University, in Wolfville, and would be joined by public health nurses.

"As a parent of a university age student myself, I can certainly appreciate the concern on campus and more broadly of Nova Scotians in general," he said.

Both 1st-year business students

Also on Wednesday, Acadia University president Ray Ivany released a statement and said Maryka is doing "very well."

"I was able to visit Hope in the hospital earlier today to tell her and her mother that the entire Acadia community is sending best wishes for a speedy recovery," he said Wednesday.

Ivany confirmed Maryka lives off campus and does not have close contacts who would be at risk of catching the disease.

Meningitis is an infection of the tissue around the brain and spinal cord.

"Public Health has determined that, because Hope lives off campus and was isolated during the incubation period leading up to her illness, there are no close contacts that require medical evaluation or treatment," said Ivany.

"Given that we are leading up to reading week, Public Health will be providing followup information to us and I urge everyone to watch their email inboxes for updates."

According to the university's website, Maryka is a first-year business administration student — the same year and program as Sarah Hastings, the Acadia University student who died earlier this month after contracting meningitis.

Maryka also plays rugby and is from Country Harbour in Guysborough County, said the university's website.

Information session on Wednesday

The president of the Acadia Students' Union said students are getting a blitz of information to help answer their questions and allay worries.

A mass email went out on Wednesday afternoon about the second meningitis case, said Callie Lathem. An information session will be held in the evening, and each residence will get a visit from authorities to talk about the situation.

The Health Department said Maryka's case of meningococcal meningitis was confirmed on Tuesday night, but Strang said figuring out which strain could take 24 to 48 hours.

Fellow first-year student Hastings died on Feb. 1 from the meningitis B strain. 

Strang said it's not known yet which strain of the disease Maryka has. If it is the B strain, Strang said Acadia is dealing with an outbreak.

"It's important to remember that even with this latest diagnosis, the risk of getting the disease remains low in the general public," he said. "There is no need to cancel classes or limit the movement of Acadia students and staff."

2 cases of Y strain, 1 case of B strain

Rylee Sears, a Grade 10 student from Lower Sackville, died one week before Hastings. Sears had contracted a different strain of meningitis — the Y strain — which will be covered in Nova Scotia's new vaccination formula being rolled out this fall.

The Y strain is also the one contracted by the St. Francis Xavier University student, whose case was only revealed by health officials on Wednesday.

"I understand the heightened level of concern, and we are working with Acadia University and local public health officials to provide information to the university community, including students, parents, staff and faculty," said Strang.

"Two confirmed cases in one population is unusual. If it is the B strain, we will begin a targeted vaccination program starting next week."

Strang said vaccine manufacturers have been contacted so they can move as quickly as possible.

"We certainly have experience with disease outbreaks, with mass vaccination," Strang said.

"About 20 years ago we had an outbreak of meningococcal disease. More recently, an outbreak of mumps at Dalhousie University that we had mass immunization, then H1N1 in 2009."


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