An undergraduate student attending Oregon State University in Corvallis is being treated for meningococcal disease. Testing to determine the disease strain is underway and is expected to be completed early next week.
Three cases of the B strain of meningococcal disease at Oregon State have occurred over the past year. One case was reported in February and two other cases were reported in November 2016.
The Benton County Health Department is working with OSU officials, local medical providers and state public health officials to identify anyone who may have had enough close exposure to the ill student to require preventive antibiotic treatment. Since the disease is not easily spread from one person to another, health officials believe only a limited number of additional people will be identified as needing preventive treatment at this time.
"In cases such as this this, we find everyone who was in close contact with an infected person and, if necessary, get them treated to prevent further spread," said Bill Emminger, Benton County Health Department. "We will administer preventive antibiotics even if they have been vaccinated previously. In this case, we have a high degree of confidence that we have contacted the individuals potentially exposed and provided effective treatment to protect them."
Symptoms of meningococcal disease may include high fever, headache, stiff neck, exhaustion, nausea, rash, and vomiting. Some people do not get meningitis, but they contract an infection of the bloodstream, which causes fever and a rash. Individuals who have spent at least four hours cumulatively in close, face-to-face association with a person suffering from meningococcal disease within seven days before the illness started are most at risk of catching meningococcal disease.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should immediately visit their primary care physician or a nearby urgent care medical clinic or emergency room. OSU students experiencing these symptoms should visit OSU Student Health Services located in the Plageman Building, 108 S.W. Memorial Place.
Meningococcal disease is not highly contagious and is transmitted through direct contact with droplets from an ill person coughing or sneezing; other discharges from the nose or throat; by sharing of eating and drinking utensils, smoking devices; or intimate contact.