Princeton Begins Meningitis Vaccine Campaign with Overseas Concoction
Guess the Ivy Leaguers aren't so perfect after all. Princeton has been suffering from a meningitis outbreak for some time now, and desperate times call for desperate measures: The university's launched a free vaccine campaign today using a drug not normally licensed for use in the United States. (Although, before anyone freaks out, it's considered just fine in Europe and Australia).
The B meningitis strain currently working its way through campus isn't covered by the usual vaccine (although a full third of cases in the U.S. last year were also this strain). The university got the Center for Disease Control and the FDA's okay the European vaccine, presumably because they are Princeton Univeristy. As Bustle reported:
The CDC announced Nov. 15 that the FDA had approved the importation of Bexsero to stem the tide of more meningitis cases. Princeton’s particular meningitis is no ordinary strain, officials say. The latest case was announced on Nov. 10. Meningococcal type Bcauses flu-like symptoms within hours, but its key characteristic causes the neck to become stiff. It kills 10 percent of kids and adults who contract the disease. Those who survive risk serious brain and hearing damage.
Around 6,000 students will be offered the first dose of the vaccine this week — those living in close quarters (oh hey, communal bathrooms!) are particularly vulnerable. Those eligible for it are all undergrads (lucky bastards); grad students living in dorms, the Graduate college or its annexes; and other "university community members with unique conditions."
The second dose is scheduled for February.
After the first case surfaced in March, the New Jersey Department of Health designated the increasing number of cases an official outbreak in May. Symptoms of meningitis include a stiff neck, head, and shoulders; confusion; fever; and headache, caused by an inflammation of the membranes overlaid on the spinal cord and brain. It's spread through "respiratory droplets" (think sneezing, coughing and, um, breathing) and close personal contact (kissing).
On the other side of the country, the University of California Santa Barbara campus is also experiencing its own meningitis outbreak, with four cases now reported. Parties are now banned on campus — but the more serious consequence came when a freshman lacrosse player had to have his feet amputated to stop the disease's spread.
Whatever happened to flu season?