Meningitis Cases Develop at UC Santa Barbara

Meningococcal disease caused three illnesses on UC Santa Barbara campus

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

(RxWiki News) News this week circulated of meningitis cases on the Princeton University Campus, and now a campus across the country — UC Santa Barbara — has reported its own troubles with the illness.

Three cases of meningococcal disease have been reported on the University of California Santa Barbara campus.

Health and university officials are asking the community to be on alert for symptoms of the illness.

"Avoid close contact with people while they are sick."

According to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (SBCPHD), three cases of meningococcal disease have been confirmed among three UC Santa Barbara undergraduate students. The patients became ill on November 11, 13 and 18, and all three cases have been tied to the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis.

Bacterial meningitis often causes a sudden onset of fever, headache and a stiff neck, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the illness is often serious.

SBCPHD reported that laboratory tests have discovered two of the cases are type serogroup B, a type of illness not protected by the routine meningococcal vaccine. The third case's test results are still pending.

As previously reported by dailyRx News, meningitis of type serogroup B has caused seven illnesses on the Princeton University campus since last spring. These cases will likely lead to the use of an unapproved vaccine, as there is currently no vaccine protecting against serotype B approved for use in the US.

On the UC Santa Barbara campus, close contacts of the patients are being identified and given antibiotics to prevent further spread of the illness.

According to SBCPHD, close contacts include "individuals who may have come into contact with the saliva or respiratory secretions of the ill patients through kissing, sharing eating utensils, drinking cups, cigarettes or extended face-to-face interactions within seven days of the onset of illness."

SBCPHD stressed that it is not recommending the preventative antibiotic to the community at large, but only to individuals identified as at risk.

SBCPHD asked that students and health care providers be alert for symptoms of meningitis like fever, muscle pain, head ache, newly developed rash, vomiting and sensitivity to light.

"It is important to note that Meningococcal Disease has a 10 to 30 percent mortality rate; early treatment is essential to a good outcome," SBCPHD reported.

According to CDC, keeping up with healthy habits like avoiding cigarette smoke, getting enough sleep and avoiding close contact with people who are sick can help prevent illness.

Review Date: 
November 22, 2013
Last Updated:
November 23, 2013