Meningococcal disease, while very rare, can also be deadly, and or cause such severe infections that one can lose their arms or legs to the infection.
The good news is that it is very treatable with antibiotics, and if you catch the infection early and get a shot of Ceftriaxone or the right antibiotics soon enough you likely will be fine.
There is an outbreak at Oregon State University (OSU) where three cases have been recently reported. If you have severe flu-like symptoms, high fever, you are feeling horrible and especially if you are an OSU student or have been around one, DON’T WAIT until tomorrow! Get in to be seen and if the doctor tells you you have the flu (which you probably do have) have them prove it with a rapid flu test that takes all of 15 minutes. If a CBC (complete blood count) is done and the results look bacterial (lots of neutrophils and especially if lots of bands – immature neutrophils) then get antibiotics going immediately. When the WBC (white blood cell) count is low and there are lots of bands in a really sick person – it is time for injectable ceftriaxone. This could save your life.
While I have not been a fan of everyone getting the meningococcal B vaccine, I do agree with the health department recommendation that all OSU students get the vaccine. The recommendations are as follows:
IMMEDIATE UPDATE: OSU meningococcal disease- Spring break
This is an update to the HAN released March 3, 2017, which declared an outbreak at Oregon State University (OSU). Three related cases of meningococcal disease, group B triggered the declaration. Mass vaccination efforts are underway.
MenB vaccination is still recommended for all OSU undergraduate students aged 25 and under. Among this population, those with elevated risk include OSU students aged 25 and under who live in on-campus housing and those who are members of – or who visit – off-campus congregate housing associated with the university.
OSU held mass vaccination clinics March 8 and 9, with support from Benton County Health Department (BCHD) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). OSU reports that the clinics vaccinated roughly 1800 students. Students vaccinated at the two clinics received wallet cards with vaccination details, such as the brand, and advised about follow-up steps. The vaccine used at the mass vaccine clinics was Bexsero®.
OSU students may have also received vaccination at OSU’s Student Health Services starting in the fall, through health care provider’s offices or pharmacies. Students who accessed MenB through these alternate mechanisms may be presenting for follow up vaccine if they have not yet received their follow up doses.
OHA and BCHD would like to remind you that during the spring break (March 27-31), some students may be returning home and could present for their MenB vaccine far from Corvallis.
We continue to remind providers of the importance of knowing the brand of the first dose of MenB vaccine provided to patients. The brands are NOT interchangeable. Bexsero® is a two-dose series, with the second dose given 30 days after the first. Trumenba® requires three doses at zero, one month and six months. The so-called two-dose regimen for Trumenba® is NOT recommended for outbreak response! Please make sure patients receiving a MenB vaccine are fully aware of the importance of knowing the brand name, dates and timing of follow-up doses.
We ask providers to check ALERT IIS for any MenB vaccination history. Register any vaccination in ALERT IIS so that records will be available to another provider called upon to vaccinate. Some students may recall vaccination but lack documentation in ALERT IIS. Please ask such students for more information, e.g., dates, brand, location of vaccination and whether they still have any documentation of their vaccination. Direct questions to the ALERT IIS Help Desk at 1-800-980-9431. The help desk is open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 4pm.
Please consider the possibility of meningococcal infection in OSU students presenting with unexplained high fever along with headache, stiff neck, rash or confusion. Report any suspected cases to your local public health department.
Paul R. Cieslak, MD
Medical Director, Communicable Diseases and Immunizations
Public Health Division
Oregon Health Authority
If you have any additional questions, please see the Oregon Health Authority investigative guidelines or call:
- Benton County Health Department communicable disease nurses at 541-766-6835
- Tasha Poissant or Richard Leman in OHA’s Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention Section at 971.673.1111.
Information about Meningococcal disease can be found at:
- Oregon Health Authority: https://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/DiseasesAZ/Pages/disease.aspx?did=51
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/index.html
Oregon 24/7 disease reporting: 971-673-1111
Paul Thomas, MD
Dr. Paul Thomas, M.D., is a Dartmouth-trained pediatrician and a specialist in addiction medicine. He has over 13,000 children in his practice and over 196,000 subscribers on YouTube. His new book, The Vaccine-Friendly Plan, gives parents the information they need to help their children avoid toxins.
Founding Director of PIC (Physicians for Informed Consent)
Co-Chair for OFMF (Oregonians for Medical Freedom)
Author of The Vaccine-Friendly Plan …