Officials with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD) have confirmed two cases of meningococcal meningitis caused by the bacterium, Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B over the past couple days in undergraduate students at Santa Clara University, prompting the school to host vaccine clinics this Thursday and Friday.

Meningitis symptoms/Public domain image/Mikael Häggström
Meningitis symptoms/Public domain image/Mikael Häggström

SCCPHD is working closely with the University to identify students at increased risk of infection and provide preventive antibiotics.

Students, faculty, and staff of the University are being advised to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis and septicemia. The symptoms of meningitis include the sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. Patients may also have nausea, vomiting, confusion, and sensitivity to light.

The symptoms of septicemia include fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, cold hands and feet, chills, severe muscle aches, and rapid breathing. A dark purple or red rash may also be present and is a very concerning symptom in the context of the other symptoms. Persons with these symptoms should seek urgent medical attention. Symptoms can occur one to ten days after exposure, but three to four days after exposure is more typical.

Vaccines to protect against meningococcal infection are available. Two vaccines against serogroup B are licensed in the United States (Bexsero® and Trumenba®) and offer protection against infection with this strain. Because these vaccines were recently licensed in 2014 and 2015, it is unlikely that most students have received them and therefore unprotected against serogroup B infection. SCCPHD is recommending that students who have not received either Bexsero® or Trumenba® be vaccinated.

The University is planning to sponsor a vaccine clinic on Thursday from 2:00 – 8:00 p.m. and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the Concourse Level of Leavey Center. The vaccine will be provided at no cost to students.