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Published On: Tue, Nov 26th, 2013

CDC expert talks about Princeton, UC Santa Barbara meningitis B cases

In response to the 11 Neisseria meningitis serogroup B cases reported between Princeton University in New Jersey and the University of California, Santa Barbara, CDC meningitis expert, Dr Amanda Cohn addressed the situation.

Public domain image/Mikael Häggström

Public domain image/Mikael Häggström

“I know there’s quite a bit of anxiety related to these two outbreaks of meningococcal disease that we’re seeing right now at Princeton and UC Santa Barbara.  Fortunately, there haven’t been any fatalities from these two outbreaks, but there have been some very serious cases.  Both universities are experiencing cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease,” Dr Cohn said as she advised parents and students of the serious bacterial disease as they go on Thanksgiving break.

LISTEN to podcast of telebriefing on Nov. 25

After touching on a lot of basic info about meningococcal meningitis, Cohn went on to talk more specifically about the situation at the two schools.

“In general, CDC defines an outbreak of meningococcal disease of three or more cases in three months that can’t be connected to each other.  And these outbreaks occur in a certain population, like school or organizations.  Most outbreaks of this disease are self-limited and no more than three or four cases occur.  However, when cases continue to occur over several-month period, like what is happening at Princeton University, intervention is required to reduce the length of the outbreak.

“In an outbreak caused by serogroup C or Y meningococcal disease, we would recommend the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine to prevent additional cases.  Until very recently, there was no available and broadly effective serogroup B vaccine that could be used to help an outbreak in the United States.  However, there’s now a vaccine that was recently licensed for use in Europe and Australia, but not in the United States. 

“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.  Each outbreak is unique and requires a rigorous assessment before use of this vaccine can be considered.  With that said, we’re open to recommending this vaccine during other outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease and will take each outbreak – and we’ll follow each outbreak very closely, and make decisions about requesting use of vaccine for additional outbreaks when needed.”

Princeton University did announce today that they will begin administering the first dose in the two dose series to students starting Dec. 9.

As far as the situation at UC Santa Barbara, Cohn said, “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.”

Dr Cohn closed by saying, “In the meantime, what we want to stress today is the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease and the need to seek prompt care if concerned.  If anyone is connected to either of the universities develops a fever, headache or rash, he or she should seek medical attention.  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.

“CDC does not remember curtailing social interactions or canceling travel plans as a preventive measure to prevent cases of meningococcal disease.  Instead, we really just want focus on reminding that students in the — students from these universities remain vigilant to the symptoms of meningococcal disease, seek treatment and that providers are aware of the situation.”

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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