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2 UMass-Amherst students diagnosed with meningitis

By DAN GLAUN
MassLive.com

November 14. 2017 9:32PM




Two cases of bacterial meningitis have been diagnosed at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, prompting school health officials to issue a warning to the campus community.

On Oct. 24, one student was diagnosed with a variant of the disease that is not included in required college vaccinations. A second student, who lives in a residence hall, was diagnosed last weekend.

“Because these two students were not in close contact with each other, these two cases raise our level of concern,” University Health Services (UHS) Executive Director Dr. George Corey wrote in a statement. “UHS is working in consultation with federal and state public health officials, and will be updating as more information becomes available.

Both students are in stable condition, with the second student receiving treatment at a local hospital, UHS said. Health workers are contacting people who may have been in close contact with the infected students and are issuing them preventive antibiotics.

Meningitis, which can cause inflammation around the brain and spinal cord, is typically caused by one of five variants, known as serogroups. The first case diagnosed at UMass was caused by Serogroup B, which until recently had no vaccine and is still not covered by standard college vaccinations.

It has not yet been determined what serogroup caused the second infection.

“Therefore, as a precaution, students may want to receive the Serogroup B vaccine, which is available at UHS by appointment,” UHS said in a statement.

Meningitis infections can potentially be highly dangerous, leading to neurological symptoms, amputation or death.

There were five Serogroup B outbreaks at U.S. colleges from 2013 to 2016, according to the National Meningitis Association. Two students died, one had both feet amputated and others suffered effects including memory loss and difficulty concentrating.

UHS is advising students to avoid contact with other people’s saliva, which can transmit the disease. Students should not share food, drinks or personal items that contact saliva, and should avoid drinking from punch bowls, UHS said. Health services is also asking students to be diligent in washing their hands and covering their coughs and sneezes.


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