5th case of meningococcal disease reported at Oregon State

Oregon State University (SBG)

CORVALLIS, Ore. - An Oregon State student went to the hospital Friday with meningococcal disease, the fifth case in the school community in the past year.

The same disease claimed the life of a University of Oregon student in 2015.

"Our thoughts and support are with this student for their full recovery," said Steve Clark, vice president of university relations and marketing at Oregon State University.

So far, the other 4 Oregon State students diagnosed with meningococcal disease at Oregon State have recovered.

In 2015, a meningococcal disease outbreak at the University of Oregon in Eugene resulted in seven confirmed cases between January and June 2015.

Oregon student-athlete Lauren Jones, 18, died from the disease after being sent home from the hospital.

Both universities have encouraged students to get vaccinated against meningococcal.

"We understand that news about another case of meningococcal disease is concerning," Clark with OSU said. "The university is working diligently with local and state health officials to respond to this case and prevent further spread of illness. Our prevention efforts include administering preventive antibiotics to individuals in close contact with the ill student and sharing information with students and their families about the risks of meningococcal disease and the importance for young adults to be vaccinated."

Health officials urged residents to learn the symptoms, which include high fever, headache, stiff neck, exhaustion, nausea, rash, and vomiting.

"Meningococcal disease is a serious condition and the situation can get critical rapidly," said Charlie Fautin, deputy director of the Benton County Health Department. "The current commonality of cold and flu symptoms may complicate diagnosis of meningococcal disease, so attentiveness for the disease is needed. Standard measures to prevent colds and flu, such as hand washing and not sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, will go a long way to prevent transmission."

While serious, meningococcal disease is not highly contagious, Fautin said.

Ways to lower the risk of infection include:

Providing vaccines to children and young adults.

Preventing respiratory tract infections by receiving an influenza vaccine and avoiding close contact with people with coughs and colds.

Engaging in frequent hand-washing.

Not sharing cups, water bottles, eating utensils or smoking devices.

Not smoking tobacco or marijuana. Studies have shown that smokers are 3-4 times more likely to contract the disease.

Not letting children be exposed to second hand cigarette smoke.

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