In a follow up to a report Tuesday, officials with Yale Student Health say that the student hospitalized with “probable” meningococcal meningitis has been confirmed as having bacterial meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis group B.
Paul Genecin, M.D., Director of Yale Health said Wednesday via email that the Silliman College freshman who was hospitalized at Yale-New Haven Hospital tested positive for the serious bacterial infection.
Dr. Genecin notes that the patient is making successful progress.
“Most cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease occur sporadically, and a single case does not meet the CDC definition of an outbreak,” Genecin said. “I am pleased with the response from the Yale community. To date, no additional cases have developed on campus.”
The student was vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis as it is required prior to entering the university, the type of vaccine did not cover this particular strain of the bacterium.
Meningococcal meningitis is the most severe form of bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can also be found in the bloodstream. This particular type of meningitis is very severe and can result in death if not treated promptly. Even in cases where treatment has been given, the fatality rate is around 15%.
The symptoms of bacterial meningitis are sudden, with fever, stiff neck, body aches and headaches. As the disease progresses other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia and seizures. A petechial rash seen on the trunk and lower extremities, bleeding complications, multi-organ failures and shock are usually final signs. This disease has the ability to kill within hours of getting it.
Up to 10-20% of older children and young adults carry this organism inthe mouth and nose, though the carriage rate will vary with age and closeness of population. The majority of people that carry this bacterium have no clinical disease. The organism is spread person to person through respiratory secretions from the nose and mouth (coughing, sneezing and kissing). Experts are unsure why some people advance to meningitis disease while many do not.
Crowded living conditions facilitate the spread of the organism and places like military barracks and college dormitories are well documented areas of concern with this disease.