Learn the facts about meningococcal disease

An Oregon State undergraduate in Corvallis is being treated at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center for what has been confirmed as meningococcal disease. This is the third reported case of the B strain of meningococcal disease at Oregon State University over the past four months. 

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). The best defense is getting vaccinated.

Symptoms of Meningococcal disease

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 or go to the emergency room for sudden severe symptoms.

  • Fever and/or shaking chills
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Severe aches and pains
  • Rash
  • Rapid breathing
  • Weakness
  • Confusion

How Meningococcal disease spreads

The bacteria are spread by exchanging respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit) during close (for example, coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact with an infected person.

Other factors that increase risk: 

  • first-year college students living in residence halls
  • college students age 25 and under living in group settings (such as fraternities and sororities)
  • military recruits
  • those who lack a spleen or have certain immune disorders.

How to reduce the spread of Meningococcal disease

  • Get vaccinated
  • Do not share:
    • drinking containers
    • eating utensils
    • toothbrushes
    • cosmetics
    • smoking devices
  • Do not drink out of a common source such as a punch bowl
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Know that kissing poses a risk
  • Wash and sanitize your hands often
  • Know that smoking increases your risk 

Vaccines available at Student Health

Student Health Services has vaccinations to cover all serotypes (strains) of meningococcus. The mandated meningococcal vaccine required at Oregon State University protects against groups A, C, W and Y. This vaccine does not cover against group B, the strain that has infected three OSU students since fall term 2016.  The MenB vaccine is available at Student Health Services.

Students currently enrolled may come to Student Health Services to receive a vaccine. Students should check with their insurance company to see if the cost will be covered. The charges can also be billed to students’ accounts.

Want more information?

Read these PDFs from the Oregon Health Authority:

See also Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - www.cdc.gov/meningitis/index.html

You can also talk to your healthcare provider at Student Health Services.