Fourth UC-Santa Barbara Student Diagnosed With Meningitis
Four students at UC-Santa Barbara have been diagnosed with a strain of meningococcal disease that does not respond to the meningitis vaccine currently approved for use in the U.S., Reuters reports.
Background on the Outbreak
Susan Klein-Rothschild -- a spokesperson for the Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health -- said the students were diagnosed with the infection within the past three weeks.
The strain affecting the students is serogroup B, which is found less frequently in the U.S. than in other parts of the world. The meningitis vaccine approved for use in the U.S. does not treat serogroup B (Bernstein, Reuters, 12/3).
So far, one student has been left permanently disabled after having both feet amputated when the disease constricted the blood supply to his limbs (AP/U-T San Diego, 12/2).
Details of Alternate Vaccine
Following a meningitis outbreak at Princeton University last month, CDC officials agreed to allow that school to administer Bexsero, a vaccine approved in Europe that is used to treat serogroup B infections.
Santa Barbara health officials and CDC now are discussing whether to allow the use of Bexsero to treat the UC-Santa Barbara students, according to Reuters.
Tom Clark, head of meningitis surveillance at CDC, said blood samples of infected Princeton students are being tested at CDC's Atlanta headquarters to determine if the bacteria respond to Bexsero.
Clark said, "It's an exceptional thing, really, to use an unlicensed vaccine in an outbreak like this," adding, "We want to be certain that the antibodies that you get from the vaccine actually kill these bacteria" (Reuters, 12/3).
UC-Santa Barbara's Response
In an effort to stop the spread of meningitis, UC-Santa Barbara officials have distributed antibiotics to more than 300 students who had contact with the infected students (AP/U-T San Diego, 12/3).
In addition, the university has suspended fraternity and sorority social events. Officials said the events put too many students at risk and could cause further spread of the infection (Reuters, 12/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.