November 24, 2013
Ivy League School Confirms Eighth Case Of Bacterial Meningitis
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
An eighth Princeton University student has contracted meningitis as part of an outbreak that dates back to last March, officials from the New Jersey-based Ivy League school confirmed on Friday.
According to a report by JoNel Aleccia of NBC News, the victim is an unidentified female who first experienced symptoms on Wednesday and was hospitalized after being examined at the campus student health center.
“Health officials are conducting tests to determine if the newest case is caused by meningitis serogroup B, the strain responsible for the previous infections which have affected six other Princeton students and a student visitor since March,” Aleccia wrote.
On Monday, officials at the university said that they were preparing to deliver a vaccine designed to protect against this strain of the disease, CNN's Elizabeth Landau reported. Since the vaccine (which is licensed in Europe) was not previously available for use in the US, Princeton was awaiting final approval from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“If the CDC approves, the vaccine would be recommended for all undergraduates and graduate students living in dormitories, as well as other members of the university community with conditions where the spleen is compromised, or certain other immune system disorders,” she continued, adding that university spokesman Martin Mbugua told CNN via email that would apply to approximately 5,000 undergraduates and 550 graduate students living in dorms and a handful of others with conditions that fall under the recommendation.
“New Jersey state law requires all students at Princeton living in dormitories to receive a different meningitis vaccine, one that is licensed in the United States. That vaccine protects against some other strains, but not serotype B bacteria,” Landau explained. “Two doses of the unlicensed vaccine – called Bexsero and made by Novartis – are required to protect individuals against meningitis B. Princeton hopes to make the first two doses of the vaccine available in early December, and the second in February.”
Earlier this month, CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds confirmed that Bexsero would protect students from the Type B strain of bacterial meningitis, which is less common in the US than it is internationally. At the time, Reynolds said that there was no timetable for when shipments of the vaccine would begin, and added that it would be voluntary (not mandatory) for students.
In September, officials at the university attempted to combat the outbreak by distributing 5,000 plastic cups to help convince students to not share drinks with one another. Those cups were emblazoned with the message “Mine. Not Yours” and also included markings for the standard size for beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages, and the phone number of the university’s department of public safety.
On Thursday, reports of two apparently unrelated instances of meningitis also surfaced, according to Aleccia. One occurred at Monmouth University, also in New Jersey, and involved an employee who had been hospitalized and was described as “gravely ill.” In addition, three cases were reported by officials at the University of California at Santa Barbara. It is unclear if the former is related to the Princeton case, but health officials confirm that the latter is a different strain of the illness.