More California schools on meningitis alert

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Photo by Connor Tarter/ Flickr/ CreativeCommons

Photo by Connor Tarter/ Flickr/ CreativeCommons

Updated December 13, 2013:

Two more California schools have joined UC Santa Barbara on meningitis alert. Cases were reported this week at both UC Riverside and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Reuters reported that University of California officials are pushing to administer the same vaccine that Princeton, which vaccinated more than 5,000 students this week, received after CDC intervention.

After confirming whether this vaccine will be effective against the specific strain of meningitis, there may be a further push to get ahead of the outbreak and vaccinate students on all of the University of California campuses.

Posted December 3, 2013

Princeton experienced the first outbreak, with eight students diagnosed since March. And in the past three weeks, UC Santa Barbara has seen four cases of the infection, one of which resulted in a double foot amputation.

Though the two outbreaks are unrelated, Santa Barbara students should still be worried. School officials certainly are. They’ve shut down parties sponsored by some of the Greek life on campus, and have reached out with offers of antibiotics to more than 500 students that may have come into contact with the four unlucky scholars.

Princeton has gone further, importing a European vaccine that hasn’t yet been approved by the FDA, and making it available to anyone living in the dorms. But for the time being, Santa Barbara students will have to settle for taking some simple precautions that will make them less vulnerable to the infection.

Like not sharing drinks. According to the CDC, bacterial meningitis is spread through “the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions.” Yes, that means students should be probably be careful when it comes to who they kiss, avoid sharing drinks, and be wary of anyone coughing nearby.

Most people who catch meningitis, after a few extremely uncomfortable days, make a full recovery. If untreated for long enough, however, individuals can suffer from hearing and nervous system damage. And ten percent of cases are fatal.