(RxWiki News) Meningitis cases have been developing at two US universities on opposite coasts. Though students were encouraged not to change holiday travel plans due to these cases, the infections are continuing.
This week, the fourth case of meningococcal disease was confirmed at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Health and university officials are now suspending some on-campus social events and asking the community to be vigilant.
"Avoid close contact with people while they are sick."
According to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD), the fourth case of meningitis at UC Santa Barbara was confirmed in an undergraduate student.
The Santa Barbara PHD reported that all four ill students became sick during a three-week time period in November. The Santa Barbara PHD also said that one of the cases has resulted in the permanent disability of a patient.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bacterial meningitis, like the type seen at UC Santa Barbara, is usually severe. Initial symptoms can include a sudden fever, headache and stiff neck, sometimes with other issues like nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light.
As previously reported by dailyRx News, the type of meningitis found at UC Santa Barbara is known as serogroup B, and is a type not protected by routine vaccination in the US.
According to the Santa Barbara PHD, preventive antibiotics have already been given to over 500 students who were identified as close contacts of the first three patients. Contacts of the fourth patient have also been provided with antibiotics.
This week, additional steps are being taken to prevent further spread of the disease, including halting certain social events, like fraternity and sorority events.
Officials will be "[s]uspending specific social events on campus, i.e., parties sponsored by Greek organizations, in an effort to interrupt transmission of the outbreak strain in social networks," the Santa Barbara PHD reported.
The Santa Barbara PHD also reported that more people have been identified as potentially exposed to the bacteria through their social networks and will receive antibiotics this week.
The Santa Barbara PHD called for vigilance among the UC Santa Barbara community, both in terms of following healthy hygiene practices and in terms of seeking health care if ill. The latter is especially important if symptoms common in meningococcal disease are present, even if the sick person received preventive antibiotics from health officials.
"Even students who have been given preventive antibiotics can become ill depending on the timing of exposure; preventive antibiotics only offer protection for about one day, so students can become ill if exposed to the bacteria again in the future," the Santa Barbara PHD reported.
According to CDC, healthy practices like avoiding cigarette smoke, getting plenty of sleep and avoiding close contact with ill people can help the public stay healthy.