UMass Amherst Officials Say 2 Students Have Meningitis

AMHERST (CBS/AP) — Officials at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have issued a warning to the community after two students were diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

One student was diagnosed with a variant of the disease on Oct. 24, and a second was diagnosed this past weekend.

Initially, the first student had been so sick he was unable to tell health officials where he had spent time and with whom.

Both students are in now stable condition and health workers are continuing to contact people who may have been in touch with the infected students.

Officials said they were concerned because the two students do not appear to be connected in any way. They do not know yet if the students have the same strain of the disease.

Dr. George Corey of the Univerisity Health Services said, “The required vaccination that our students have don’t cover one strain that is known to cause disease in this age group called meningococcal serogroup B.”

Meningitis, which can cause inflammation around the brain and spinal cord, is typically caused by one of five variants — one of which had no vaccine until recently and isn’t covered under standard college vaccinations.

UMass is offering the vaccination by appointment.

“It is a rare disease so were not thinking that we’ll have a huge outbreak. But we just want everybody to be alert,” said UMass Amherst Public Health official Ann Becker, R.N.

University health officials are advising students to avoid contact with saliva, which can spread the disease.

“Everyone on campus got an email about the kid, he wasn’t actually on campus, he was in a frat house off campus,” explained freshman Christine Nasiff.

“Knowing that there is something that serious is definitely a big concern for parents–and for us too,” said Lauren Carey, another freshman.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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