A strand of meningitis, identified as “Type B,“ has broken out on Princeton University’s campus, sickening several students. Outbreaks of meningitis are usually designated as medical emergencies because of the possibility of affecting the brain and the risk of death. Meningitis involves the swelling of protective membranes which shield the brain and spinal cord. The type of meningitis that has broken out on Princeton’s campus is not protected against by the typical vaccine administered to students attending universities in the United States, making this outbreak all the more alarming.
As of Saturday the outbreak had not been effectively contained, although officials state that they are making progress. Reports have surfaced that the Center for Disease Control is working directly with Princeton in controlling this outbreak and are in the process of making available an experimental vaccine to the university. Officials working for the university would still have to approve the use of this new vaccine, as it is a vaccine that is approved for use in Europe and Australia, but not in the US.
This week the Food and Drug Administration announced that it would allow the importation of of this vaccine for use at Princeton. This experimental vaccine is referred to as Bexsero, but officials are unsure of when it could be made available to students at Princeton. Since Meningitis can be spread from student to student it is seen to be extremely important to have the assurance of a workable vaccine on such a highly populated region as a college campus.
Princeton has not taken this matter lightly. A school official reported that Princeton has been doing everything in its power to acknowledge and spread awareness to students and campus visitors about the meningitis outbreak. “This is a question we have been considering very carefully,” said university spokesman Martin Mbugua on Saturday to reporters. “We will be talking over it with our trustees this weekend, and when we have something to publish we will make a proclamation,”
The outbreak has been confirmed to have affected seven people at Princeton, only one of which involved someone who was not enrolled as a student at the university. Of the six students, all but one has recovered, the other student is still being hospitalized. The non-student, a campus visitor, is currently being treated by another state’s health department.
The most easily recognizable symptoms emanating from meningitis include headache and neck stiffness which is to seen in companion with fever, vomiting and light sensitivity.
Princeton was recently named by Forbes magazine as the third best Private College in America, the second best Research University, and the best private college in the Northeast beating out its ivy league competitors. Princeton is home to nearly 5,200 undergraduate and 2,500 graduate students as well as numerous faculty and staff members. It is unclear if this outbreak will have a negative impact on the reputation of the university or if this will effect enrollment for the upcoming year. So far though, there have been no major complaints targeted towards the universities handling of this meningitis outbreak.
By Nick Manai