Emergency Guidelines for the Campus Community

E-Mail sent to campus community 11/10/13

Health Advisory:  Student diagnosed with meningitis

A Princeton University student is receiving treatment at a local hospital after he was diagnosed with meningitis early this morning.  The student developed symptoms of acute illness Saturday and went to the University’s McCosh Health Center, from where he was taken to a local hospital early Sunday morning.

The University community should be aware of these important points about meningitis:

  • Any student with a high fever should go to University Health Services in McCosh Health Center or call (609) 258-3141 during business hours or (609) 258-3139 after hours.
  • You may become ill with meningitis even if you have not been in contact with someone who is sick.  The bacterium that causes meningitis occurs naturally and can survive in the nose and throat in 5 to 25 percent of the population without causing symptoms to the carrier, while still being contagious to others.  Most cases of meningitis are acquired through exposure to these asymptomatic carriers.
  • You can help prevent the spread of disease by increasing hygienic practices, and not sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, smoking materials and other items.

Signs and symptoms of bacterial meningitis can include high fever, headache or stiff neck. These symptoms can develop over several hours, or they may take one to two days. The average incubation period is four days, but it can range between two and 10 days. Most people with meningitis are hospitalized and treated with antibiotics.

Health officials will be conducting tests to determine if this case is related to the six cases of meningitis associated with the University since March. The previous cases were caused by meningococcal bacteria known as type B. All six people have since recovered. State law requires all Princeton students living in dorms to have received the licensed meningitis vaccine, which protects against most strains of the bacteria but not type B.

The University continues to work with local and state health officials, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to find ways to limit the spread of disease.

Again, members of the University community who experience high fever or headache and stiff neck, or have health concerns should immediately go to the nearest hospital emergency room or visit the University’s McCosh Health Center or call (609) 258-3141 during business hours or (609) 258-3139 after hours. People at high risk of infection include those with terminal complement deficiency, smokers, and those whose spleen is damaged or has been removed.

Those who are planning to travel abroad should inform their physicians about this notification and seek advice.

University Health Services and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety are encouraging students and other members of the University community to pay increased attention to personal hygienic practices. 

Helpful precautions include:

  • Always coughing into a sleeve or tissue, washing hands frequently, and using hand sanitizer often.
  • Not sharing drinking glasses, smoking materials, eating utensils, or drinking from a common source, such as a punch bowl.

The University will continue to provide reminders and additional information on campus about taking precautions to help limit the spread of disease.

Information about bacterial meningitis is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (cdc.gov/meningitis/bacterial.html). The University has also posted information online (http://web.princeton.edu/sites/emergency/meningitis.html). If you have any additional questions you may call University Health Services at (609) 258-3141.

Cynthia Cherrey
Vice President for Campus Life

The Federal Clery Act requires that where a university determines that there is an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on campus, the university must follow its emergency notification procedures. Princeton University is issuing this emergency notification in accordance with its procedures. This notification has been sent to all members of the University community.






Last update: 10-Nov-2013 4:53 PM
Web page comments or errors: Robin Izzo.