Eighth Princeton student diagnosed with meningitis

Reuters

NEW YORK, Nov 22 (Reuters) - An eighth Princeton Universitystudent has been diagnosed with meningitis, a potentially fatalinfection that causes swelling of the brain and spinal cord, auniversity spokesman said on Friday.

Health officials will conduct tests to determine whether thelatest case is related to the previous seven that have beenidentified since March. Officials at the New Jersey school couldnot provide the current health status of the student.

The latest case comes shortly after the U.S. Food and DrugAdministration allowed the university to use an imported vaccineto help control the disease's spread. Thevaccine has already been approved in Europe and Australia and isin the process of seeking approval in the United States.

The past cases at the Ivy League school were caused by themeningococcal bacteria known as serogroup B. State law requiresall Princeton students living in dormitories to receive ameningitis vaccine that protects against most strains but notthe serogroup B variety, Princeton spokesman Martin Mbugua saidin an email.

The outbreak of serogroup B meningitis is rare but not thefirst of its kind in the United States, according to the Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention.

Bexsero, made by Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG, will be provided to all undergraduate students, graduate studentswho live in university housing on or off campus, and studentsand faculty with certain illnesses, such as sickle cell disease,Princeton officials said earlier this week.

The FDA has allowed the use of the vaccine at Princetonunder an Investigational New Drug application. The federal CDCconsiders the drug to be safe.

"Everyone involved is working hard to organize a potentialserogroup B meningococcal disease vaccine campaign as quickly aspossible that fits into Princeton University's academiccalendar," said CDC spokeswoman Sharon Hoskins.

The Princeton inoculation campaign is set to be voluntaryfor students and is expected to begin in early December, withanother event in February, according to the school's website.

Federal and New Jersey state health officials have notadvised visitors or students to avoid the campus, Mbugua said.

Meningitis is a serious disease that is spread throughcoughing and exchanges of saliva, and people living indormitories or other crowded living quarters are especially atrisk.

The most severe cases can result in death, hearing loss,brain damage, kidney disease or amputation of limbs.

Symptoms include fever, headaches and stiff neck.

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