As of March 1st, 2015, 4 students at the University of Oregon have contracted type B meningococcal disease, and one of these students has died. The Oregon Immunization Program is working Lane County health officials, the University of Oregon, and other Oregon Health Authority programs to prevent the spread of this disease. To find the most up to date information on this emergency, please visit our 2015 Meningococcal Update website.
There are vaccine options available for students U of O students in the form of mass vaccination clinics at Matthew Knight arena from March 2-5, and over 15 pharmacies in Lane County, including Safeways, Walgreens and Albertsons, are offering the vaccine to students. You can find out more details about those events and participating pharmacies by visiting https://healthcenter.uoregon.edu/getthevax.aspx
Meningitis: What It Is, How it Spreads and Symptoms to Look For
Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is usually caused by bacteria or viruses, but can also be caused by physical injury, cancer or certain drugs. Neisseria meningitidis is a bacterium that causes meningitis and other serious infections. The 6 subtypes of these bacteria are responsible for most meningococcal disease worldwide. Type B causes approximately 50% of the cases in Oregon and is suspected to be the cause of the most recent outbreak in Eugene (2015).
Meningitis is generally transmitted through direct exchange of respiratory and throat secretions by close personal contact, such as sharing drinks or kissing. Fortunately, none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are as contagious as the common cold or the flu. In order for the illness to spread, a person would need to have close contact with the patient for several hours in a seven day period.
Meningococcal disease can progress rapidly, and early symptoms are not easily recognized and are difficult to distinguish from other more common infections like the flu. These include:
Students who notice these symptoms (in themselves, friends, or others), should contact the University Health Center at 541-346-2770.
If the symptoms are unusually sudden or severe, they should consider going directly to a local emergency room.
Some people are carriers of the bacteria and show no symptoms. The disease is unpredictable, and no one really knows all the reasons why some carriers become sick while others do not.
How You Can Prevent the Spread of Meningitis
Get vaccinated. In an emergency, such as the one we are in now, people over the age of 10 can be vaccinated.
Do Not Share:
Don’t drink out of a common source such as a punchbowl
Cough into a sleeve or tissue
Know that kissing poses a risk
Wash and sanitize your hands often