For the third time since Nov. 2016 (HERE and HERE), an undergraduate student attending Oregon State University (OSU) in Corvallis is being treated at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center for what has been confirmed as meningococcal disease. The student remains hospitalized in good condition.

All three case were identified as the B strain of Neisseria meninigitidis.

As a result of these three cases, the university 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. 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. In accordance with CDC guidance, vaccination is recommended for all Oregon State undergraduate students under the age of 25. In particular, OSU students who are under the age of 25 and who live in on-campus housing or who are members of – or who visit – fraternal living groups associated with the university are urged to act on this recommendation.

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.

As part of its response, the university will offer vaccination clinics on Wednesday, March 8, and Thursday, March 9, in McAlexander Field House from 9 a.m. through 6 p.m.

 Gram-negative Neisseria meningitidis diplococcal bacteria/CDC
Gram-negative Neisseria meningitidis diplococcal bacteria/CDC

Awareness is very important in effectively managing meningococcal disease. While meningococcal disease is very serious for those who become infected, it is not a highly contagious disease. It most often affects individuals who are 25 years old or younger. It 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. 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 S.W. Memorial Place. If symptoms are sudden and severe or occur after hours, immediately go to an urgent care or hospital emergency room.