Third Case Of Meningococcal Meningitis Confirmed At San Diego State University, County Declares Outbreak

An outbreak has been declared at San Diego State University (SDSU) after a third student was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis.

According to the San Diego County Public Health Services department, a male undergraduate student showed symptoms of the bacterial infection on Tuesday, September 25. Subsequent testing at the California Department of Public Health confirmed that the cause of the illness was serogroup B meningococcus, per a report by NBC 7.

Earlier this month, a female student was diagnosed with the same bacterial disease. The university’s Student Health Services advised students who had prolonged contact with the unidentified infected individual during a sorority recruitment event to get preventative antibiotics, the NBC 7 report said.

County public health officials also disclosed that another female SDSU student was diagnosed with the same disease in June. According to the university’s News Center, the student was living off campus and was not attending classes. An announcement was not made by the county about the case as the infection did not pose a public health risk at the time.

All three students contracted the infection within three-and-a-half months, which led to the declaration of an outbreak in the university. SDSU, together with the County Public Health Services department, is closely monitoring the outbreak.

San Diego County Public Health Services has recommended all undergraduate students under the age of 24-years-old to get immunized against meningococcus B (MenB) if they have not already done so, the News Center report stated.

“Although most students on the SDSU campus have been vaccinated as teenagers with a quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine, many have not gotten the serogroup B vaccine, which is needed to protect against the bacteria that has caused these recent illnesses,” said Wilma Wooten, County Public Health officer, as quoted by a CBS8 report.

“Meningococcal disease can be serious and deadly, so we want anyone to be alert for symptoms and seek care should they occur,” she added.

In 2014, an 18-year-old SDSU named Sara Stelzer succumbed to the deadly disease, while a few other students contracted the infection across different colleges in the county. The deceased student had been vaccinated against meningitis, however, the vaccine didn’t cover the rare Type B bacteria, according to the NBC 7 report.

Bacterial meningitis is a contagious disease and can be fatal. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infected people can die within a few hours.

The bacteria (meningococcus) can be transmitted through the air via cough droplets, sneeze, oral secretions, intimate contact, such as kissing, or through sharing items like drinking glasses and cigarettes, etc.

Symptoms of meningitis include headaches, sudden fevers, and stiff neck. There could be other symptoms too, such as nausea, vomiting, confusion and perplexity, and increased sensitivity to light.