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Bacterial Meningitis Infection Hospitalizes NJ College Student

MAR 22, 2016 | SARAH ANWAR

Prevention of Bacterial Meningitis

Several vaccines are now available to prevent infection with the three meningococcal serogroups B, C, and Y:
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccines (MCV 4) [C,Y]
    • Recommended for people who are 55 years of age and younger
  • Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccines (MPSV4) [C,Y]
    • Recommended for people over 55 years of age
  • Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines (MenB) [B]
MenB vaccines provide short-term protection to those between 16 and 23 years of age, and are most effective when used between the ages of 16 years and 18 years. MenB vaccines are recommended for anyone 10 years of age or older who is at an increased risk of contracting a serogroup B meningococcal infection, such as:
  • Those individuals amidst an outbreak
  • Individuals with a damaged or removed spleen
  • Anyone with persistent complement component deficiency
  • Anyone receiving treatment with eculizumab
  • Microbiologists who work with N. meningitidis isolates
MCV4 and MPSV4 vaccines are not recommended for those who are moderately or severely ill or have a life-threatening allergy to any of the vaccine components. Since there is not much information regarding the risks MenB vaccines pose in pregnant or breastfeeding women, the CDC recommends these vaccines be administered in these populations only if clearly needed.

Since these vaccines do not provide 100% protection against meningococcal infection, the CDC advises that all individuals, including those who have already received vaccination, stay away from those who are known to be infected. There are a number of antibiotics that can help treat meningococcal disease. Prophylaxis is recommended to help prevent infection. Early diagnosis and treatment are advised.

The Rutgers Case

The Rutgers University student is currently being treated for meningococcus and is said to be recovering. The University will not be cancelling any scheduled events or activities on the New Brunswick campus. The NJDOH recommends that all students monitor themselves for symptoms or signs of bacterial meningitis and make an appointment with a healthcare provider if they suspect they are infected. Those who are ill should avoid school or work to prevent the spread of infection. The sharing of eating utensils, drinks, and cigarettes between students or faculty should be avoided. All personnel and students are advised to keep up to date on all vaccinations.

“At this time, there is one confirmed case of bacterial meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis. Although there is great concern from the public, there are no recommendations for the surrounding community to avoid contact with Rutgers University or Rutgers University students,” said State Epidemiologist, Christina Tan, MD, MPH. “We encourage individuals to continue to practice healthy habits—wash your hands frequently, cover your coughs and sneezes, and avoid sharing food and drinks with others. Students are being advised to seek medical attention immediately for symptoms compatible with meningococcal disease.”
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