After reports of a Yale College student who was treated last month for meningococcal disease and now has a recurrence of the initial infection, the University is reporting a second possible case of meningococcal disease in a student.

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

According to Director, Yale Health, Paul Genecin, M.D., second Yale College student fell ill while on break and was tested for meningococcal disease. The test results were inconclusive and the student has recovered. Additional testing is underway to determine if this person’s illness may have been caused by meningococcal bacteria.

Genecin said that Connecticut state law requires that students in residential settings receive vaccinations against meningococcal disease. He added that although the majority of Yale students receive a vaccination that does not protect against the serogroup B strain, a vaccination against this strain is available at Yale Health to those aged between 18 and 25 years and is covered for those with Yale Health Hospitalization/Specialty coverage.

The Yale Health hotline established to answer questions about meningitis continues to operate. The hotline is staffed by medical professionals and can be reached at 866-924-9253.

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.