OSU Student Contracts Menningococcal Disease

Another undergraduate student attending Oregon State University in Corvallis is being treated for meningococcal disease. The student entered the hospital Friday and is reported to be in good condition. The strain of meningococcal disease has not been identified.

"Our thoughts and support are with this student for their full recovery," said Steve Clark, vice president of university relations and marketing at Oregon State University. "We understand that news about another case of meningococcal disease is concerning. The university is working diligently with local and state health officials to respond to this case and prevent further spread of illness. Our prevention efforts include administering preventive antibiotics to individuals in close contact with the ill student and sharing information with students and their families about the risks of meningococcal disease and the importance for young adults to be vaccinated."

This is the fifth reported case of meningococcal disease at Oregon State in the past year. The ill students were treated for serogroup B meningococcal disease and fortunately they have all recovered. In 2015, there was a meningococcal disease outbreak at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Seven confirmed cases occurred between January and June 2015 and resulted in one fatality.

"Meningococcal disease is a serious condition and the situation can get critical rapidly," said Charlie Fautin, deputy director of the Benton County Health Department.

Fautin urged community members to be watchful for individuals presenting signs and symptoms consistent with meningococcal disease, which 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.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should immediately visit their primary care physician, an urgent care medical clinic or emergency room. OSU students experiencing these symptoms while at school should visit OSU Student Health Services located in the Plageman Building, 108 S.W. Memorial Place.

"The current commonality of cold and flu symptoms may complicate diagnosis of meningococcal disease, so attentiveness for the disease is needed," Fautin said. "Standard measures to prevent colds and flu, such as hand washing and not sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, will go a long way to prevent transmission."

Fautin said while serious, meningococcal disease is not highly contagious. Customarily, individuals who have spent at least four hours over a week in close, face-to-face association with a person suffering from meningococcal disease before the illness started, are at risk of catching meningococcal disease.

The best way to prevent meningococcal disease is by vaccination. A minimum of two doses is required to provide protection. Other ways to lower the risk of infection include:

Providing vaccines to children and young adults.

Preventing respiratory tract infections by receiving an influenza vaccine and avoiding close contact with people with coughs and colds.

Engaging in frequent hand-washing.

Not sharing cups, water bottles, eating utensils or smoking devices.

Not smoking tobacco or marijuana. Studies have shown that smokers are 3-4 times more likely to contract the disease.

Not letting children be exposed to second hand cigarette smoke.

Source: Benton County Health

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