The identification of two meningitis cases at Santa Clara University, California, have raised the alarm in the ranks of both students and professors. This has subsequently led to the launch of vaccination for all 8,800 students from the academic institution.
The first to experience the symptoms of meningitis was a member of a fraternity named Pi Kappa Alpha. The man complained of harsh headaches on January 30. However, over the course of the next hours, his migraines turned for the worse, along with the apparition of other symptoms including confusion and vertigo. The other students alerted the university officials who took the freshman to a local hospital. The doctors determined that he had somehow contracted the Neisseria meningitis bacterium and thus had meningococcal meningitis.
During the same day, another freshman from the Santa Clara University that was part of the same fraternity started showing the same symptoms. He was also hospitalized and diagnosed with meningococcemia as was seen in his blood tests.
The control officer for communicable disease and county health, Dr. Sara Cody, stated that they could not be sure if the second freshman got infected in the same way as the first, with the Neisseria meningitis pathogen.
As a result, the surrounding dormitory colleagues of the infected freshmen also received medical checks and had to take oral antibiotics in order to prevent any possible spread of meningitis. Furthermore, a whole campaign of vaccinations of all students of the university was started at the behest of the student health services director Jillandra Rovaris.
The problem lies in the strain B of the bacteria which is relatively new. Otherwise, most students should be safe from the other four serogroups of the pathogen. But how could they arrive to such a situation? The explanation is quite simple: the Food and Drug Administration of the United States has only recently approved the Bexsero and Trumenba vaccines as effective and safe, and thus there was no time for efficiently spreading them around the country.
The meningitis pathogen causes terrible inflammation of the brain and the spinal cord, along with migraines, nausea, disorientation, fever, sensitivity to light, fatigue, stiff neck, skin rashes and vomiting. As bad as it sounds, it is also easily transmissible by any contact between people or even sharing the same room.
As everyone hopes the two meningitis cases at Santa Clara University will stay isolated and not affect others, this is a clear warning that healthcare must be taken very seriously in educational institutions. Prevention is always better than treatment.
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