After Princeton University confirmed its seventh case of meningitis since March recently, federal health officials have decided to import a vaccine to campus that's only currently approved in Europe and Australia. School administrators, meanwhile, are still deciding whether or not to offer the emergency vaccinations to students.
The campus' seventh confirmed meningitis outbreak is a type B strain; though meningitis is common on college campuses, health officials say this particular strain is rare, and they've never seen one like it in this country. "College outbreaks of meningitis are usually caused by a "C" strain," Dr. William Schaffner, a past president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, told CNN. "A group B outbreak is very unusual." The CDC has agreed to import oversees vaccine Bexsero in hopes of preventing more students from contracting the disease, and the university is now discussing whether or not they'll be administering it to students. "This is a question we have been considering very carefully. We’ll be discussing it with the trustees this weekend,” University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua told The Daily Princetonian.
The CDC says this is the first time a vaccine from overseas will be used to stem a U.S. outbreak, and they had to work with the FDA to get it sent over here. Princeton's first confirmed case came after a student returned from spring break in March, followed by six more outbreaks in the following eight months. All patients except the student suffering from last weekend's confirmed case—who is still hospitalized—have recovered.
Meningitis, which can often be deadly, is easily spread by coughing, sneezing and kissing, and at Princeton students are required to be vaccinated against it before coming to campus—unfortunately, that vaccine doesn't prevent against this particular strain.