Third case of meningococcal disease found

The Baro Staff

Student Health Services offers vaccinations, resources

Oregon State University announced on March 2 that an undergraduate student attending the Corvallis campus has been diagnosed with having the meningococcal disease. The student remains in the hospital, but is in good condition according to the university. 

This is the third confirmed case of meningococcal disease in the past four months, which has prompted public health officials to put OSU on “ outbreak status”, according to the university.

OSU will follow the protocols of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and recommend meningococcal B vaccinations for students who are at the highest risk, the university said. This vaccination program will be offered in cooperation with OSU Student Health Services, Benton County Health Department, the Oregon Health Authority and other

health care partners. 

“We believe it is important that students ages 25 and under, especially those living in group housing, do get a vaccination this week,” said Steve Clark vice president of University Relations and Marketing. “One vaccination brand requires two doses, and another requires three. We recommend students follow through and complete the vaccinations, because just getting one vaccination will not prevent the disease. 

The university recommends contacting respective insurance companies before receiving the vaccination, according to Clark. 

“We are recommending strongly that students and their families contact their insurance companies before getting the vaccination, but we will not exclude students based on their financial situation,” Clark said. 

The university went on to say that although this is is a serious matter, it is not an emergency. 

The 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. As of today, more than 40 individuals have received preventive treatment. Since the disease is not easily spread from one person to another, county health officials are confident that they have identified and treated all close contacts of the most recent case and that no one else requires preventive treatment at this time.

The university will offer vaccination clinics on Wed., March 8, and Thurs., March 9, in McAlexander Fieldhouse from 9 a.m. through 6 p.m.

The university advises that students check with their insurance provider about coverage for receiving a meningococcal B

vaccination at OSU. 

“Be sure your insurance provider understands that the Corvallis campus has been designated by public health officials to have an “outbreak” status,” the university said.

Students that do not have insurance will be offered the vaccine through other resources that the university will detail later this week.

The university noted that awareness of meningococcal disease is very important in effectively managing the disease. Although meningococcal disease is very serious for those who become infected, it is not a

highly contagious disease. 

According to the university, those that are most often affected include individuals who are 25 years old or younger. The disease is transmitted only 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.

Symptoms of the disease include high fever, headache and stiff neck, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, the university said. However, some people do not get the full range of symptoms, but may exhibit a rapidly developing rash on the armpits, groin and ankles as well as in areas where elastic pressure is applied.

“Students experiencing these symptoms should immediately visit OSU Student Health Services located in the Plageman Building, 108 SW Memorial Place. If symptoms are sudden and severe or occur after hours, immediately go to an urgent care or hospital emergency room. Non-students experiencing symptoms should contact their primary care physician, an urgent-care medical clinic or a nearby hospital emergency room.