Meningitis Outbreak: New Jersey, California Have Four New Cases

Friday, 22 Nov 2013 10:26 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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The four new cases of meningitis reported in New Jersey and California since the beginning of November have no link to the outbreak on Princeton University's campus, where seven people have been sickened since March, health experts say.

Three people on the University of California's Santa Barbara campus have contracted meningitis since Nov. 11, and an administrator at Monmouth University in Long Branch, N.J., was hospitalized this week, according to NBC News.

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Though it's not yet clear what kind of meningitis is involved in the Monmouth case, the three in California were confirmed as B serogroup, or bacterial meningitis, but slightly different from the strain afflicting those in Princeton, N.J., according to Dr. Tom Clark with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The strains in the two UCSB cases we’ve tested are the same as one another. They are different from the Princeton outbreak strain," he told NBC News. "The risk of spread of an outbreak to two locations is very low."

On Monday, after a seventh person was sickened at Princeton, the university said it would be using a new immunization to treat the disease. The vaccine, which is not yet approved for use in the United States, was specifically designed to treat meningitis B serogroup and will be available free of charge to all students.

According to the CDC, early bacterial meningitis symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting and can sometimes cause death within a matter of days. Survivors can suffer mental disabilities, paralysis, and hearing loss.

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