Two cases of meningococcemia confirmed

Two cases of meningococcemia have been identified on the University of Oregon campus. UO Health Center staff has worked in step with the Lane County Public Health authorities to contact individuals who were identified as potentially at an exposure risk and are confident that all of those individuals have received the preventative treatment.

The first case of meningococcemia was reported on Jan. 16. The female student in that initial case was treated by a Portland area hospital and has since been released. A second case was reported to the UO on Feb. 3.

Concern has been raised that there was a potential third case; however health officials report that at this time no one else being monitored related to this incident. “There was one student who was examined and referred for additional screening. This was done out of an abundance of caution due to increase exposure risk by nature of proximity,” said Dr. Pat Luedtke of Lane County Public Health. “At this time all exposed community members have been identified and contacted.”

“We are extremely pleased with the level of collaboration and coordination between the UO and public health,” said Mike Eyster, executive director of the University Health Center. “Our folks acted quickly, worked with medical professionals to identify areas of risk and provided prophylaxis those who needed it.”

The UO distributed notices to approximately 1,200 students Tuesday evening. “The large number of notifications should not be perceived as 1,200 individuals are at the same level of potential exposure. Procedurally, it is more important for us to reach the individuals so they can begin self-monitoring for symptoms and come speak to medical staff to assess their individual risk,” Eyster said.

“Meningococcemia is a disease that does not live more than a short time outside of the body,” said Dr. Richard Brunader, medical director of the University Health Center. “That is an important detail to keep in mind, along with the exposure time required to increase the likelihood of contracting the illness.”

From the Center for Disease Control:

Neisseria meningococcemia is contagious, but generally is 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 Neisseria meningococcemia are as contagious as the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by sitting next to, shaking hands with, or breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

For additional information, visit the UHC website.