Incoming Princeton Freshmen to Receive Meningitis Vaccine

Freshman students entering Princeton University this fall will be offered a vaccine to protect against a rare strain of meningitis that caused an outbreak at the school as well as the death of a Drexel University student, according to a report from NBC News.

The vaccine, Bexsero, made by Switzerland-based Novartis, is approved for use in Europe, Australia and Canada but not yet for general use in the United States. The CDC recommended the unusual step of allowing Princeton to offer it, a move approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

NBC News reports that about 1300 incoming Princeton students will be eligible to receive Bexsero in the Fall.

An outbreak of the B strain of the meningitis bacteria began in March 2013 at Princeton and sickened seven students and a campus visitor. All have since recovered.

The university offered the B strain vaccine to eligible members of the campus community a couple of weeks later, and about 5,300 students and staff got the first of two shots. The second dose was administered in February.

Stephanie Ross, a 19-year-old Drexel University student who had contact with Princeton students, died from the B strain earlier in March.

Princeton University canceled an overnight stay for incoming students due to the recent outbreak.
The annual Princeton preview has been changed to one-day events in April.

The Times of Trenton reports campus life vice president Cynthia Cherrey said in an email the daytime program would decrease the number of prospective students "engaging in late night, higher risk" social events with undergraduates.

Meningitis causes swelling of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord and is fairly rare in the U.S. But the illness develops quickly and, left untreated, can be fatal within a couple of days. Symptoms include a stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity and confusion.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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