A student at the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers University (RU) in New Jersey has been hospitalized due to an infection with Neisseria meningitidis
, which causes meningococcal meningitis. As a result, RU Health Services contacted all students who had been in recent contact with the student to advise them to begin preventive antibiotic treatment.
There are three serogroups of N. meningitidis
most common to the continental US: B, C, and Y. According to a New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) statement
regarding the Rutgers case, testing is still underway to determine the specific serogroup type that the student is infected with.
Risks Associated with Bacterial Meningitis
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), N. meningitidis
affects individuals of all age groups, however, infants are at the highest risk for infection, as well as those living in close proximity to infected individuals, particularly in college dormitories. Individuals diagnosed
with bacterial meningitis often recover, although the disease can cause serious complications, including brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities, as the bacteria causes swelling in the meninges (the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord).
Transmission and Symptoms of Bacterial Meningitis
Bacterial meningitis can be spread through exposure to the saliva or mucus of an infected individual during close or lengthy contact. N. meningitidis
is not spread through casual contact. Those infected with bacterial meningitis typically start to show signs between 3-7 days after coming in close contact with the bacteria.
Symptoms often manifest as:
- Stiff neck
- Increased sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Altered mental status (confusion)
The CDC recommends that anyone who comes in contact with an infected individual be tested for the contagion if they start to show symptoms. N. meningitidis
can be detected in the blood or cerebrospinal fluid. The severity and treatment of the illness vary depending on the bacterial agent which caused infection.