Meningitis outbreak scare at Rutgers after 2 students get sick
With graduation on Sunday, Rutgers University seniors could get an unwanted sendoff gift from the university: an outbreak of bacterial meningitis on the university's New Brunswick campus.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Health & Wellness Melodee Lasky said that tests on bacteria by the CDC on two separate cases conclude the cases are genetically identical even though no common link was found between the two cases. Both students had infections caused by neisseria meningitidis serogroup (type) B (MenB), according to the CDC's testing.
"Although there have been only two cases, public health officials are concerned that this may represent an outbreak since the two cases have occurred over a relatively short period of time. Of course, we cannot predict whether there will be additional cases of MenB associated with Rutgers University-New Brunswick," Lasky wrote.
Lasky said the school is not planning to cancel any campus events including Sunday's graduation ceremony.
The CDC considers bacterial meningitis to be "very serious and can be deadly" according to its website. Most people diagnosed with meningitis recover but can result in permanent disabilities such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities, according to the CDC.
Lasky said that the vaccine routinely given to protect against bacterial meningitis does not protect against type B (Men B) and the school is working with the state Department of Health developing a plan to prevent a larger breakout.
The CDC said the illness is spread by an exchange of saliva during kissing, coughing or lengthy contact. The school suggests that everyone on campus should wash their hands, cover their coughs and avoid sharing items such as water bottles, lip balm and cigarettes.
Any students or staff with questions about bacterial meningitis should contact Health and Wellness at 848-932-7402.