June 26, 2019 | 82° F

2nd Rutgers student diagnosed with bacterial meningitis

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A second Rutgers student was hospitalized with bacterial meningitis on April 29, after a student was first diagnosed with a case on March 18. Officials are trying to determine if the cases are linked.

A Rutgers student was hospitalized on Friday after coming down with bacterial meningitis, said Assistant Vice Chancellor for Health and Wellness Melodee Lasky in an email to the University community. 

The patient, whose name was not disclosed, is recovering after receiving treatment, Lasky said. People who have been in contact with the student have been notified, and will be prescribed antibiotic medication as a preventative measure.

This marks the second case of meningitis this semester. A student was diagnosed and hospitalized on March 18 with the same disease. Officials are trying to determine whether the two cases are connected or not.

"The bacteria that causes meningococcal disease are not as contagious as the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with the disease has been," Lasky said. 

The bacteria strain infecting the second student has not been determined yet, she said. The hospital has requested testing on the new case to identify it, which will also help in establishing any potential link between the cases.

The disease infects the lining of the human brain and spinal cord. It can also infect the bloodstream, Lasky said. Physical symptoms include  fever, soreness and rash.

While the disease can be treated with antibiotics, rapid care is important.

"Rutgers Student Health is encouraging members of the University community to pay increased attention to personal hygienic practices such as good hand washing, covering coughs and avoiding sharing drinks or utensils with others," Lasky said.

UPDATE 05/04/16: University spokesperson E.J. Miranda said in an email that the second student lived off campus. The first patient has fully recovered and left the hospital, but no further information can be provided.

Lasky said in an update that Neisseria meningitidis type B infected the second patient. 

"Rutgers Student Health continues to coordinate the response for this infection with local, regional health officials and the (Centers for Disease Control)," she said.

Most vaccines protect against meningitis types A, C, W and Y, but not B. Students should contact Rutgers Student Health or their physicians about Bexsero or Trumenba, both of which can protect against type B for a short period of time, she said. The vaccines are for those aged 16 to 23, with those between 16 and 18 being the primary group they are designed for.

Students can learn more on the CDC website.

The health centers are open five days a week, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Monday-Thursday, and 10:00 a.m. on Fridays, and closing at 4:30 p.m. every day. The Advice Nurse Line also exists for when the facilities are closed: students can call the line at 1-800-890-582. Students experiencing medical distress should call 911.

Students experiencing meningitis symptoms should see a physician as quickly as possible to limit the impact it can have. 

This is a developing story. Updates will be posted as we receive them.

Nikhilesh De is a School of Engineering junior. He is the news editor of The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.

Nikhilesh De

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