The Drexel University student who died last week from a rare strain of meningitis was infected with the same strain from the Princeton University meningitis outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday, March 18.
The findings suggest that the strain of meningitis -- serogroup B meningococcal disease -- is still present at Princeton, the CDC noted.
The Drexel student, sophomore Stephanie Ross, was taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center after she was found unresponsive on March 10 in her sorority house, philly.com reported. She died at the hospital.
CDC researchers learned that Ross had been in contact with Princeton students a week before she fell ill.
Antibiotic prophylaxis was administered to people who may have had close contact with Ross before she died; the CDC reported that no other cases of meningitis B have been reported at Drexel.
The meningitis outbreak at Princeton prompted a mass vaccination of students at the university. Even though all students living on campus are required to receive the meningitis vaccine, the vaccine administered in the United States doesn't protect against the meningitis B strain; therefore, the Food and Drug Administration had to specially approve the use of another kind of meningitis vaccine for Princeton students. However, because there is not an outbreak of meningitis B at Drexel, the vaccine is not approved for use at Drexel University, the CDC said.
The CDC noted that there have not been any new cases of meningitis B at Princeton since Dec. 9, 2013. But that's not to say that a person couldn't have still been infected. "Available data show most adolescents that get two doses of this vaccine are protected from getting meningococcal disease," according to the CDC report. "However, vaccinated individuals may still be able to carry the bacteria in their throats, which could infect others through close contact."
From the CDC:
We recognize that when cases of meningococcal disease occur, there is increased concern about the potential spread of disease and desire to take appropriate steps to prevent additional cases. There is no evidence that family members and the community are at increased risk of getting meningococcal disease from casual contact with Princeton University students, faculty, or staff. Although transmission is from person-to-person, this organism is not highly contagious and requires sharing respiratory and oral secretions to spread. Those at highest risk for disease are people who have had close, prolonged, or face-to-face contact with someone who has meningococcal disease.
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