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Morning headlines: Friday, April 20, 2012

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Washington University officials on the lookout for bacterial meningitis 

Officials at Washington University are on the lookout for possible cases of bacterial meningitis after a female undergraduate student was diagnosed with the bacteria that can cause the illness.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says no other cases have been identified. The university's director of student health services told the paper that the university contacted about 50 students, most of whom lived in the same residence hall as the woman. Many of them got preventative antibiotics.

Two construction workers recovering after hospital crane accident

Two construction workers are recovering after a crane accident at Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the two men were injured yesterday when the 70 foot crane fell as they tried to move it. The men were part of a McCarthy Building Companies crew that is updating the chiller plant at the hospital.

A Mercy spokeswoman told the Post-Dispatch that the injuries were minor and that no part of the hospital was damaged. McCarthy says it is investigating the incident.

Illinois Comptroller recovering from hip fracture

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is recovering from a hip fracture.

Spokesman Brad Hahn says the Republican fell Wednesday as she was getting on an elevator at a Springfield hotel following an address to the Illinois Public Health Association.

Hahn says Topinka underwent surgery on Wednesday for a small hip fracture. She remains at Memorial Medical Center, but is walking around and recovering well.

Topinka had knee replacement surgery last year.

Bill seeks fairer disaster declarations

Illinois' two U.S. senators are backing federal legislation they say would bring consistency and fairness to how communities hit by natural disasters are chosen for federal relief.

The Fairness Federal Disaster Declarations Act supported by Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk comes after Harrisburg and other southern Illinois communities devastated by Feb. 29 tornadoes were denied federal aid.

The lawmakers say the measure would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency to give a specified weight to each of the factors considered when determining which communities are eligible for federal help.

It also requires FEMA to consider local economic factors such as the median income and poverty rate in comparison to that of the state.

A message seeking comment was left yesterday with FEMA.