Meningitis case confirmed on UI campus

Meningitis case confirmed on UI campus

Sat, 10/14/2017 – 2:45pm | Paul Wood
http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2017-10-14/meningitis-case-confirmed-ui-campus.html

URBANA — A University of Illinois student has a confirmed case of meningococcal meningitis.

A UI release said the student is being treated at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. The student was admitted Tuesday.

Dr. Robert Woodward, medical director of McKinley Health Center, and his staff are contacting friends and roommates of the student, who lives on the fourth floor of Leonard Hall, as a means of identifying others who might be at risk.

Symptoms of meningitis include a fever of more than 101 degrees, often accompanied by a sudden, severe headache or stiff neck, a rash or mental confusion. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde remembered a particularly serious outbreak in 2008 when two students were affected.

She said the proper steps were being taken.

“The UI has this under control, and they’re working with the state and local health authorities,” she said.

She said the bacterial form, as in this case, is more serious than a viral or fungal form.

Woodward and consultants at the Illinois Department of Public Health have stressed that others were not in danger of infection unless they have been in intimate or prolonged close contact – about eight hours and within 3 feet – with the student. Contact in a classroom situation is not considered close contact.

The agents causing meningococcal illness are spread through respiratory droplets and secretions. Most people have natural immunity to the disease and will never fall ill from it, even with close exposure. Most of the public are immunized against the most common type of meningitis among adults.

Generally, people with intimate or prolonged close contact with a confirmed meningitis patient require preventive therapy. Examples are individuals living in the same household, sharing water bottles and kissing. Secondary cases of the disease are not common, but they are preventable by taking appropriate medication.

There are a number of effective antibiotics, and medical prevention can be as simple as taking a single dose of antibiotic within the first few days following exposure, the UI said.

Students who have questions about meningitis or believe they may have had close contact with the diagnosed student may visit the McKinley website or call Dial-A-Nurse at 217-333-2700. Students also may go to McKinley for examination and treatment.

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Another reason Georgia and Georgia Power Company SUX!

Attorney General: Customers must pay Plant Vogtle charges up front

Russell Grantham The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
1:59 p.m Thursday, July 6, 2017

One of the Plant Vogtle reactors under construction. Photo: Georgia Power
To AJC Story

Customers must keep paying a financing surcharge for the troubled Plant Vogtle nuclear project, according to the Georgia Attorney General’s office.

Georgia Power has collected more than $2 billion in such finance charges from customers since 2011, according to Bobby Baker, a former state utility regulator and Atlanta attorney.

Because of a 2009 state law enacted just after the Vogtle project was authorized, “Georgia Power cannot voluntarily agree” to suspend the surcharges, Senior Assistant Attorney General Daniel Walsh said Wednesday in a letter to state utility regulators.

Atlanta-based Georgia Power, the largest partner in the project, previously said it has no intention to agree to stop collecting the surcharge, which adds roughly $100 a year to the typical residential customer’s bill.

However, the surcharge can apparently be adjusted or frozen at a reduced level.

Georgia Power agreed to cap the surcharge last year in a settlement with the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Under that Oct. 20 settlement, the amount of Vogtle construction costs the finance charge is based upon was capped at $4.4 billion until the project is completed, in effect freezing the amount Georgia Power can collect each year in finance charges.

Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins said state law requires the company to collect the surcharge, but he declined to answer a question about whether the law allows it to reduce the surcharge. Hawkins said the surcharge “saves customers hundreds of millions of dollars by reducing financing and borrowing costs.”

The opinion from the Attorney General’s office does not appear to address whether the surcharge can be reduced.

Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, on the Georgia Public Service Commission’s five-member board, raised the surcharge issue last month when he proposed that the PSC ask the Atlanta utility to quit collecting the financing charge.

The late-March bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric, a key contractor on the Plant Vogtle expansion, has raised questions about the viability of the project to build two new reactors at the nuclear plant near Augusta. The project, about a third built, is more than three years behind schedule and over $3 billion over budget.

Given the uncertainty, McDonald said Georgia Power should be asked to suspend collection of the surcharge. The other PSC commissioners instead decided to ask the Attorney General’s office if such a move was legally possible.

In his letter to the PSC, Walsh said the 2009 state law unambiguously stated that the surcharge “shall” be collected — meaning it is mandatory — based on the project’s ongoing construction costs, starting in 2011.

Under heavy lobbying from Georgia Power, state lawmakers passed the Nuclear Energy Financing Act in 2009, shortly after the Vogtle project was approved from the PSC.

Typically, utilities begin recovering the costs of big power plant projects from utility customers after the projects are completed and state regulators have determined which project costs are “prudent.”

This traditional approach “avoids having current ratepayers subsidize future ratepayers” who actually benefit from the long-lived nuclear plant, said Walsh in his opinion. But paying finance charges up-front “may assist in preventing any rate shock” after the project is completed, he added.

Under the 2009 law, customers are paying about $414 million this year in financing charges for the Vogtle expansion, according to Baker, the former PSC commissioner.

Through the end of 2016, customers had paid just under $2 billion in such charges, he said. The cumulative total will reach almost $2.38 billion this year, he said.