CDC: Students Safe to Travel Despite Meningitis Outbreak
Illnesses in N.J. and California involve strain not covered by currently approved vaccine
MONDAY, Nov. 25, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Despite recent outbreaks of bacterial meningitis at Princeton University and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), U.S. health officials said Monday that students are safe to travel home for the Thanksgiving break.
At Princeton, there have been seven confirmed cases and one additional case now under study. At UCSB, three cases have been confirmed so far, according to experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "There have been no fatalities from these outbreaks, but there have been some very serious cases," CDC medical officer Amanda Cohn, M.D., said during an afternoon press conference.
Despite the outbreaks, Cohn said, there is no need for students from these schools or their families to change Thanksgiving plans. "CDC does not recommend curtailing social interactions or canceling travel plans as a preventative measure," she said. "Instead, we want to remind students from these universities to remain vigilant and watch for symptoms, seek treatment. Also [health care] providers should be aware of the situation."
Both outbreaks of meningococcal disease involve the so-called B strain, for which there is no approved vaccine licensed in the United States. A new vaccine against the B strain of the disease is licensed in Europe and Australia, Cohn said, and the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have agreed to allow its use in Princeton to prevent further spread of the outbreak. Final steps to permit its use in the United States are ongoing, and it's hoped that vaccinations can begin after Thanksgiving, Cohn said. The company that makes the vaccine hasn't sought its approval in the United States, and is instead looking to have a vaccine approved that covers all strains of meningococcal disease -- including the B strain.