U.S. News


Feds Allow Meningitis Vaccine To Treat Princeton Outbreak

An outbreak of a rare form of meningitis on the Princeton University campus has prompted the federal government to make an unprecedented move.
Posted at 3:34 PM, Nov 16, 2013

Seven people have been infected with meningitis on the Princeton University campus. It's a dangerous infection that can result in serious complications, even death. And now the U.S. government is stepping in to try to prevent anyone else from getting infected. 

"In an unprecedented move by the federal government, health officials have given the green light to import a drug called Bexsero. It's currently licensed in Australia and Europe but not yet approved by the FDA." (Via WHDH)

There are several different strains of meningitis, and many are covered by the vaccines available in the U.S. However, the outbreak on Princeton's campus is the rare strain B, which is not covered and the reason for the import. (Via News 12 New Jersey

"School officials will discuss the matter during a trustees meeting this weekend." (Via Fox News

If the board does decide to bring the vaccine on campus, it will be available to all 8,000 students but will not be mandatory. 

So what's the cause of this rare infection? 

"The risky behaviors of adolescents, meaning that you share water bottles and you have risky sexual promiscuity behaviors. Those things with that intimate contact, that's the cause for this spread by respiratory droplets." (Via Al Jazeera

Dr. Thomas Clark, acting head of the Centers for Disease Control's Meningitis and Vaccine Preventable Diseases Branch, told NBC News: "This is a bad disease, and we know how devastating it is. ... If you're a student at Princeton University right now, your risk is quite high." 

Meningitis affects the brain and spinal cord and causes inflammation. Some of the early symptoms include high fever, headaches and stiff neck, among others. If not properly treated, the infection can lead to hearing loss, seizures, kidney failure and death. (Via Mayo Clinic

Among the seven that were infected at Princeton, six are students and one is a visitor. The most recent case is still being hospitalized, while the others are said to be in good condition.