November 22, 2013

Eighth case of meningitis confirmed at Princeton

Tests are being conducted to determine if the student has a strain of the disease that has already affected six students and a campus visitor since March.

The Associated Press

PRINCETON, N.J. — Princeton University reported another case of meningitis Friday, the eighth so far this year linked to the school.

A female student developed symptoms Wednesday night and was referred to a local hospital after going to the university’s health center, according to university spokesman Martin Mbugua. The student was diagnosed with meningitis Thursday, and is being treated. Tests are being conducted to determine whether she has type B meningococcal bacteria, a strain of the disease that has already affected six students and a campus visitor since March, Mbugua said.

The Food and Drug Administration this week approved importing Bexsero for limited use at Princeton. The vaccine is approved in Europe and Australia but not in the U.S.

It’s the only vaccine for use against the strain that has been identified at Princeton. The university said doses of the vaccine are to be available in December for undergraduate students, graduate students who live in dorms and employees who have sickle cell disease and other medical conditions that would make them less likely to be able to fight meningitis because of their weakened immune systems. Follow-up doses then will be available in February.

The CDC and state health officials said travel plans and activities on the Princeton University campus could continue as planned, adding the surrounding community could continue to attend events on the Princeton campus, Mbugua said.

A case of meningitis was also reported this week at Monmouth University. Tests were being done to determine the strain.

Bacterial meningitis is a disease that can cause swelling of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can be spread through kissing, coughing or lengthy contact. It’s fairly rare in the United States, but those who get it develop symptoms quickly and can die in a couple of days. Survivors can suffer mental disabilities, hearing loss and paralysis.

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