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Emergency Guidelines for the Campus Community

Meningitis Information

Last update: July 11, 2014

Nine cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease have been associated with Princeton University. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New Jersey Department of Health are not recommending cancelling or curtailing events or activities on campus.

Stop the Spread

Students who have received the meningitis B vaccine on campus have likely protected themselves from getting sick, but they can still spread the meningitis bacteria to others who have not been vaccinated.

Students can help prevent the spread of bacterial meningitis by doing the following:

  • Don't share drinking glasses, smoking materials, eating utensils, cosmetics or lip balm
  • Always cough into a sleeve or tissue
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Use hand sanitizer often
  • Don't drink from a common source such as a punch bowl

Bacterial meningitis is contagious and generally spread through coughing, sharing drinks, utensils or smoking materials, and kissing.

If you or a close contact becomes sick:

  • Anyone with a high fever should seek medical attention immediately
  • Students should immediately report to or call University Health Services at 609-258-3141
  • You may become ill with meningitis even if you have not been in contact with someone who is sick

Note to campus visitors from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

We recognize that when cases of meningococcal disease occur, there is increased concern about the potential spread of disease and desire to take appropriate steps to prevent additional cases. There is no evidence that family members and the community are at increased risk of getting meningococcal disease from casual contact with students, faculty, or staff at institutions experiencing outbreaks. Therefore, CDC does not recommend limiting social interactions or canceling travel plans as a preventive measure for meningococcal disease. Instead, we continue to recommend that people remain vigilant to the symptoms of meningococcal disease and seek treatment immediately if they experience any of those symptoms.

Additionally, there is no evidence that says you are at risk of catching the infection by touching surfaces like doorknobs or keyboards. A small number of the bacteria may survive for a few hours on surfaces, but most die quickly. However, hand washing and covering your cough or sneeze are good hygiene practices to follow.

As of this time, the vaccine is only available at Princeton University for groups identified in the Investigational New Drug application as being at increased risk for getting meningococcal disease. The vaccine is not broadly available because it is not approved in the United States.

For frequently asked questions about the University vaccine clinics, including specific questions about eligible populations, the second dose and more, please visit: http://web.princeton.edu/sites/emergency/meningitis.html.

For frequently asked questions about the vaccine and bacterial meningitis, please visit the CDC's meningitis information website: http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/outbreaks/vaccine-serogroupB.html

You may also email the CDC at meningvaccine@cdc.gov, which is dedicated to answering questions about the vaccine.

This website provides information resources for meningitis. This list of questions and answers and resources on this page will be updated regularly.

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Questions and Answers

updated 6/13/14

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Last update: 11-Jul-2014 5:29 PM
Web page comments or errors: Robin Izzo.