Meningococcal Disease

× The MenB vaccine is available at SHS or an area pharmacy. You must be fully vaccinated by February 15, 2018 if you are a current Corvallis campus student age 25 or under.

Meningococcal disease is a serious, potentially fatal infection that most often causes severe swelling of the tissue around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or a serious blood infection (meningococcemia).

Meningococcal meningitis is when the brain and spinal cord swelling is caused by the Neisseria menigitidis bacteria. Of these bacteria, Type B causes approximately 38 percent of the cases in Oregon and is the cause of the present outbreak at OSU.

The best defense is getting vaccinated.

Vaccines Available at Student Health

In addition to the quadrivalent vaccine, there is also a new type B vaccine available that covers a strain of the bacteria that is not included in the standard 4-strain vaccine. Both vaccines are recommended for full protection, especially for those age 25 and under who live in residence halls, fraternities, and sororities. Student Health carries Bexsero®, which is a two-dose series, one month apart, and costs $235/dose. Student Health also carries Trumenba® - which is a three-dose series. 

Enrolled students may come to Student Health for the quadrivalent and type B meningococcal vaccines. Check with your insurance company to see if the cost will be covered and be sure they know that OSU is in an outbreak situation for Meningitis B. In many cases this will require them to cover the cost of immunization at 100%. The charges can also be billed to your student account. Please direct questions about insurance coverage to your insurance plan provider.

New Vaccine Requirement 

Beginning December 2017, all students age 25 and under must be immunized with meningococcal B vaccine.

OSU already had a requirement in place for incoming students age 25 and under to have been immunized. After three new cases of MenB this fall term, the university extended the requirement to all students.

New students are encouraged to satisfy all of their immunization requirements before arriving at OSU. Current students for whom this is a new requirement are encouraged to begin the vaccination series as soon as possible.

Symptoms

Early symptoms may be difficult to distinguish from the flu or an upper respiratory infection, or symptoms may appear suddenly and progress rapidly.

If symptoms occur, contact your health care provider as soon as possible or go to the emergency room for sudden severe symptoms.

  • Fever
  • Rash (often appears as flat, dark purple spots on arms, legs, torso)
  • Severe headache
  • Severe body aches
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Feeling very drowsy or weak
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion

How it spreads

The bacteria spread through the exchange of respiratory secretions during close, direct contact with an infected person.

Although "close contact" has not been clearly defined, it generally refers to individuals who have had prolonged (greater than 8 hours) contact while in close proximity (less than 3 feet) to the patient or who have been directly exposed to the patient's oral secretions during the seven days before the onset of the patient's symptoms and until 24 hours after initiation of appropriate antibiotic therapy.

Other factors that increase risk: first-year college students living in residence halls, college students living in group settings (such as fraternities and sororities), military recruits and those who lack a spleen or have certain immune disorders.

How to reduce the spread

  • Get vaccinated
  • Do not share:
    • Cups, water bottles, or eating utensils
    • Toothbrushes
    • Make-up or lip balm
    • Cigarettes, e-cigarettes, pipes, or hookah
  • Do not drink from a common punchbowl
  • Know that kissing poses a risk
  • Cover your cough (coughing and spitting can transmit the bacteria)
  • Wash hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer

Call Student Health at 541-737-2724 with any questions.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention