Oregon State University reports the fifth case of meningococcal disease in the past year



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In a follow-up on the status of meningococcal disease at Oregon State University (OSU) in Corvallis, Benton County health officials report that an additional student is being treated for meningococcal disease, the fifth case in the past year.

According to health officials, the undergraduate student entered the hospital on Friday and is reported to be in good condition. The strain of meningococcal disease has not been identified.

   Gram-negative diplococcal bacteria Neisseria meningitidis / CDC
Gram-negative diplococcal bacteria Neisseria meningitidis / CDC

The four previous students had meningococcal disease of serogroup B and all were treated and recovered.

"Meningococcal disease is a serious disease and the situation can quickly become critical," said Charlie Fautin, deputy director of the Benton County Health Department.

Fautin urged members of the community to be alert to people who have signs and symptoms consistent with meningococcal disease, which may include high fever, headache, stiff neck, exhaustion, nausea, rash and vomiting Some people do not get meningitis, but they get a bloodstream infection, which causes a fever and rash.

"The current similarity between cold and flu symptoms can complicate the diagnosis of meningococcal disease, so attention is needed for the disease," Fautin said. "Standard measures to prevent colds and flu, such as washing hands and not sharing eating utensils or glbades, will go a long way in preventing transmission."

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Fautin said that although it is serious, meningococcal disease is not very contagious. Habitually, people who have spent at least four hours for more than a week in close badociation, face to face with a person suffering from a meningococcal disease before the disease began, are at risk of contracting meningococcal disease.

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The best way to prevent meningococcal disease is through vaccination. A minimum of two doses is required to provide protection. Other ways to reduce the risk of infection include:

  • Providing vaccines to children and young adults.
  • Prevent respiratory tract infections by receiving a vaccine against influenza and avoiding close contact with people with cough and colds.
  • Participate frequently in handwashing.
  • Do not share cups, water bottles, eating utensils or smoking devices.
  • Do not smoke tobacco or marijuana. Studies have shown that smokers are 3-4 times more likely to get the disease.
  • Do not let children expose themselves to second-hand cigarette smoke.

Anyone who experiences the symptoms described above should immediately visit their primary care physician, an emergency medical clinic or emergency room. OSU students who experience these symptoms while at school should visit OSU Student Health Services.

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