On Monday, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirmed the fourth case of bacterial meningitis on the University of California Santa Barbara campus. Now, the school has suspended upcoming parties and fraternity events as authorities attempt to rid the university of the potentially fatal disease. All cases have arisen in the last month, and one freshman lacrosse player had his feet amputated to prevent further damage to his body.
The Health Department also expanded its projection of how many students may have been exposed to meningitis, from 300 to 500 people. Bacterial meningitis can be transmitted through kissing, coughing, or general prolonged contact; school authorities are now re-cleaning dorms and athletic facilities in attempts to stave off the outbreak, and the 500 exposed students have been given preventive antibiotics.
Symptoms of meningitis include a stiff neck, fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and general flu-like symptoms. The infection requires immediate medical attention: 10 percent of people who contract it die, and many who survive suffer permanent brain or bodily injuries.
UCSB is the second American campus to have a bacterial meningitis outbreak. Since March, eight students at Princeton University have contracted the disease. To stem its spread, the Food and Drug Administrated permitted the Center for Disease Control to import a foreign, unapproved drug into the U.S. and distribute it to students on the campus.