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Updated: Eighth case of meningitis at Princeton reported; will not affect vaccination plans

Updated 11/24, 9:07 p.m.

A female student was diagnosed with meningitis and hospitalized late on Thursday in the eighth case of the disease to strike the University community since March.

The student developed symptoms of the disease on Wednesday night, when she went to University Health Services at McCosh Health Center. She was taken to a local hospital on Thursday, according to a health advisory emailed to all University students and their parents.

Health personnel will conduct tests to determine whether her case is related to the seven cases of the disease that have occurred at the University this year, all of which were caused by meningococcal bacteria serotype B.

The latest case is not expected to change authorities’ response to the outbreak or their plans, announced in the past week, for a vaccination campaign, according to Alison Patti, a spokesperson for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She added that the CDC will not recommend that the vaccine be mandatory.

The CDC has been working with state, local and University officials since the third case of the outbreak was reported in May. The University announced Monday that, pending final CDC approval, it would be sponsoring two rounds of Bexsero, a meningitis B vaccination not yet licensed in the United States, in an outbreak response planned since the summer.

Bexsero will be made available free of charge to all undergraduates, all graduate students who live in dormitories and other University community members who have existing medical conditions predisposing them to meningococcal disease.

In an email announcement on Nov. 18, the University said it hoped to make the first round of the vaccine available in December, with a booster round offered in February. Both doses will be necessary for full effectiveness.

State law currently requires incoming college students to receive a licensed meningococcal vaccine, but the vaccines currently approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration only cover serogroups A, C, Y and W-135, not B.

Bexsero was licensed in the European Union in January and in Australia in August, but it has not yet gained FDA approval. The use of the vaccine at Princeton is not expected to speed its progress through FDA approval procedures, according to experts.

Starting with the third case in May, the University has issued health advisory emails to the student body with each new case of meningitis associated with Princeton. The advisories encourage students to pay close attention to personal hygiene and to avoid sharing drinking cups, eating utensils or smoking materials like cigarettes with other students. Students who experience a high fever are encouraged to report immediately to UHS.

The first case involved a female student who developed symptoms after returning from spring break in March. The second case involved a male visitor who was on campus from April 6 to 8. He developed symptoms at Princeton and received treatment in his home state.

In the third case, Peter Carruth ’14 fell ill on May 7 just after spring Lawnparties. He reported to UHS with symptoms of the disease and was transferred to University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, where he received treatment.

The fourth case involved a male student who fell ill May 20 while traveling to his home state at the end of the spring semester.

In the fifth case, Michael Moorin ’16 was hospitalized abroad on June 30 with symptoms of the disease while in Greece on a University-run academic program. He was treated in Greece before being transferred to an American hospital in Paris.

The sixth case involved a female student hospitalized for meningococcemia, a disease that occurs when the bacteria had entered her bloodstream, on Oct. 3.

Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics. The first six cases of the outbreak have recovered. The male student who fell ill in the seventh case, reported on Nov. 10, has been discharged from the hospital, according to New Jersey Department of Health Spokesperson Dawn Thomas.

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