NEW BRUNSWICK — After two cases of meningitis were diagnosed on one of Rutgers' three campuses, the school is urging all undergraduates residing on and off campus and graduate students who live in undergrad resident halls get vaccinated against the type B strain.

An outbreak was declared by the state Department of Health after the two cases were reported at the New Brunswick campus Feb. 4 and Feb. 23, according to a statement from the school. Both students were hospitalized after their cases were diagnosed, and then released. The school did not disclose if the cases were related.

No new cases have been reported since the initial two cases.

"Students should understand that if they have received the mandatory vaccination for on-campus students, which protects against types A, C, W, and Y of the bacteria, they are not protected against type B, which is the bacterium involved in this outbreak," Rutgers said in a statement.

The vaccination is available at Rutgers Student Health Centers, on-campus clinics, and students' local health care providers or pharmacies.

The CDC considers bacterial meningitis to be "very serious and can be deadly," according to its website. Most people diagnosed with meningitis recover, but the disease can result in permanent disabilities such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities, according to the CDC.

Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. There are often other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, and confusion.

The CDC said the illness is spread by an exchange of saliva during kissing, coughing, or lengthy contact. It cannot be spread by casual contact activities like being in the same work or school room as the sick person.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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