Campus Meningitis Cases Shouldn't Damper Holiday Plans

Meningitis at Princeton and UC Santa Barbara not to change holiday travel plans said CDC

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Meningitis outbreaks at two university campuses have gained national attention and led some to question if these outbreaks should lead to a change in students' holiday travel plans.

The meningitis cases, discovered at Princeton University and the University of California Santa Barbara, are of a type of meningitis not protected by routine vaccinations in the US.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that no changes be made to holiday plans of members of these university communities.

CDC also said that an unapproved vaccine should be available to fight the outbreak at Princeton soon.

"Don't share drinking or eating utensils."

Bacterial meningitis can cause a sudden headache, fever and stiff neck. According to the CDC, it can sometimes result in severe reactions like seizures, coma and death.

As previously reported by dailyRx News, Princeton University in New Jersey and UC Santa Barbara have both reported serogroup B meningitis cases on their campus. Serogroup B meningitis is a form of the disease for which there is currently no vaccine approved for use in the US.

Princeton has confirmed seven cases of the illness (with an additional possible case being tested), and UC Santa Barbara has reported three cases. 

Amanda Cohn, MD, CDC meningococcal disease expert, explained in a telebriefing Monday that steps are being taken to make a vaccine, recently approved in Europe and Australia, available to some members of the Princeton community.

"The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration have determined that the unique pattern of disease in this Princeton outbreak, the high rate of cases that have occurred and over the long period of time they've occurred in warrants access to this serogroup B vaccine for that high-risk population," explained Dr. Cohn. 

Dr. Cohn reported that the process of providing the serogroup B vaccine to Princeton University is a complicated one, involving multiple agencies and partners. 

"All involved anticipate that the vaccine will begin once everything is in place, shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday hopefully. CDC is continuing to work with local and state partners to closely monitor the UC Santa Barbara situation, and if cases continue to occur, we'll determine the best course of action," said Dr. Cohn.

Dr. Cohn stressed that while these university communities need to be vigilant for signs of illness, the outbreaks should not lead to any changes in holiday travel plans.

"If anyone is connected to either of the universities develops a fever, headache or rash, he or she should seek medical attention," said Dr. Cohn. "But we also want to make sure that there is an understanding that there's no need to really change family members and communities' contact with students from these universities as they're traveling home for the Thanksgiving holiday."

Review Date: 
November 26, 2013
Last Updated:
November 28, 2013