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Emergency Guidelines for the Campus Community

Meningitis FAQ for Visitors and Community Members

Updated February 4, 2015

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.

In October 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a meningitis B vaccine, Trumemba, made by Pfizer. This vaccine requires three doses - intial, second dose after two months, third dose after six months. In January 2015, the FDA approved Bexsero, the meningitis B vaccine by Novartis, used in the Princeton University vaccine clinics. This vaccine requires two doses, spaced at least one month apart.

While both vaccines are approved for individuals ages 10 through 25, medical experts have not yet made recommendations as to whom should receive them. Thus, while all physicians have access to the vaccines, not all will have it in stock.

Questions and Answers

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's website has detailed FAQs about the meningitis Type B vaccine. The answer to your question may be there. If not, please see below.

-I am not a member of the University community, but I interact with Princeton students and/or come to campus for activities. Am I eligible to receive the vaccine?

In October 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a meningitis B vaccine, Trumemba, made by Pfizer. This vaccine requires three doses - intial, second dose after two months, third dose after six months. In January 2015, the FDA approved Bexsero, the meningitis B vaccine by Novartis, used in the Princeton University vaccine clinics. This vaccine requires two doses, spaced at least one month apart.

While both vaccines are approved for individuals ages 10 through 25, medical experts have not yet made recommendations as to whom should receive them. Thus, while all physicians have access to the vaccines, not all will have it in stock.

-Should I avoid attending events on the Princeton campus or visiting the University?

No. The CDC and state health officials do not recommend cancelling or curtailing activities on the Princeton campus. There is no recommendation for the surrounding community to avoid contact with Princeton or Princeton students.

-Will the University cancel events or activities on campus?

No. The CDC and state health officials have not recommended cancelling or curtailing activities on the Princeton campus.

As the New Jersey Department of Health Department says on its website:
Restricting travel to areas with an outbreak, closing schools or universities, or cancelling sporting or social events are not recommended measures for outbreak control in the United States. A crucial part of managing suspected meningococcal disease outbreaks and promoting early case recognition is educating communities, physicians and other healthcare workers about meningococcal disease.

- Are athletes participating in sporting events against Princeton teams or on the Princeton campus at higher risk?

CDC investigations and the published medical literature have not identified any serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreaks or clusters associated with sporting events. 

-Should I take antibiotics before going to Princeton University for an event or activity?

No. As the New Jersey Department of Health Department says on its website:
There is no recommendation to take antibiotics before attending events or activities at Princeton University. Only people who have been in close contact with a suspect or confirmed case of meningococcal need to be considered for preventive treatment.

-Can visitors stay in dorms?

According to the CDC, overnight visits with undergraduates in a dormitory should not on its own pose an increased risk to the visitor. Visitors should be vigilant about not sharing cups, utensils, smoking materials, cosmetics, etc.

-Are the cases of meningitis at University of California-Santa Barbara related to the outbreak at Princeton?  How do you know?

No, the cases are not related. While the cases at both the University of California-Santa Barbara and Princeton involve serogroup B meningococcal bacteria, the genetic strains of the bacteria are not the same. 

All other questions about meningitis Type B vaccine safety, efficacy, approvals, risk factors and other concerns are addressed on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Last update: 05-Feb-2015 2:44 PM
Web page comments or errors: Robin Izzo.