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Scare spreads to some university campuses, interferes with inter-university sporting events

Originally published on Jan.23, 1992

Meningitis has frightened more than just the high school student in the Ottawa-Carleton area. 

Queen’s University, and subsequently Ryerson University, in response to Queen’s stance, have both refused to play varsity sports at either the University of Ottawa or Carleton University.

Officials at Queen’s, after consulting with their medical staff and advisors, decided to temporarily postpone athletic events between Queen’s and the University of Ottawa. Their decision includes games scheduled to be played in Kingston as well. 

Dr. Steven Corber, the medical officer at the Regional Department of Health said that the decision by Queen’s was not supported by the Ottawa Medical Health Unit and that it was not recommending the cancellation of any events. 

The usual method of transmission of the meningococcal disease is through the exchange of fluids from the nose and mouth of an infected person. Since all varsity teams at the University of Ottawa have been issued individual water bottles, and since the opposition would provide such items for their own teams, there appears to be little risk for these athletes.

“Queen’s is a well-respected institution,” said the men’s basketball head coach Jack Eisenmann. “A panic situation has devolved because of their position, and it is over nothing but a miscommunication between Queen’s and their medical personnel.”

The status of the missed game is under consideration by the league, which was not consulted, and has not sanctioned the actions taken by Queen’s and Ryerson. 

“The decision made by Ryerson was an over-reaction and made without all the information,” said women’s co-ordinator and women’s basketball coach Wanda Pilon. 

“If the game is rescheduled we would like to play at our conveniences,” she added. 

The University of Ottawa is officially asking for the games to be forfeits. Both Queen’s and Ryerson will have to deal with the consequences of their decision and that of the league.  

Ryerson, in fact, met the Ottawa Gee-Gees hockey team in regular season action in Toronto Jan.18 after Queen’s cancelled their game to be played in Kingston. 

The Redmen, from McGill University, also kept to the schedule and met the Gees for their basketball game Jan.19, in Montpetit Hall

Innoculation fever hits U of O  

They started lining up outside the gym at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. By the time the doors were opened at 10:45 a.m. approximately 100 students and staff had gathered at Montpetit Hall for the meningococcal inoculation.

Louise Villeneuve, promotional health nurse for the Health Services at the University of Ottawa said 3,200 students and staff members were in the list of candidates for the vaccination.

Only persons born after Jan.1972 were considered eligible for the treatment, which normally costs about $30. Villeneuve said there was a steady flow of people through the gym throughout the day. 

At the end of the inoculation session which lasted form 11:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. Villeneuve said a total of 2,200 people were administered the vaccine. 

University of Ottawa Health Services and the Regional Departement of Health organized the vaccination session against the strain of meningitis that claimed six lives. 

Fun Facts about this article  

-Meningitis is spread very similarly to COVID-19, however it affects the symptoms are different as people affected with meningitis tend to suffer from a stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, and a fever of over 38 degrees celsius. 

-The McGill dropped the name “Redmen” in 2019-20 to McGill due to its racist nature. 

-Wanda Pilon coached the women’s basketball team from 1986 to 1997. 

-Jack Eisenmann coached the men’s basketball team from 1989 to 2001 before leaving to join Geno Auriemma staff and help build the UConn women’s basketball teams dynasty of the 2000s in the NCAA.

-Steven Corber is now a dental surgeon in Toronto.