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UW-Madison confirms two cases of meningococcal disease B

October 11, 2016


University of Wisconsin–Madison confirms that both students hospitalized with meningococcal disease last week had serogroup B. Additional genetic testing is being conducted to determine if the two bacteria are closely related. People who may have had close contact with these students have been contacted and treated as a precaution. Both students are currently recovering.

Additional details are not being disclosed out of respect for the medical privacy of the students and their families.

UHS is in close communication with officials from the state and Public Health Madison-Dane County to determine the best vaccine recommendation for UW–Madison students.

“We are grateful that both students are recovering. We hope to be able to provide additional information later this week or early next,” says William Kinsey, MD, director of medical services at UHS. “In the meantime we want to remind everyone of the signs and symptoms of meningitis and encourage all students to limit the spread of respiratory illness by not sharing cups, glasses, or other items.”

Most students are immunized against serogroups ACYW but very few students are vaccinated against serogroup B. Serogroup B vaccine has only recently become available and it is not routinely recommended. Meningococcal bacteria are spread through close contact with an infected person’s oral or nasal secretions, such as by sharing cups.

Meningococcal disease most often causes meningitis, an inflammation of the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It’s very rare, often comes on suddenly, and can progress rapidly. Symptoms include high fever (greater than 101 degrees F), accompanied by severe headache, neck stiffness and confusion. Vomiting or rashes may also occur. Anyone with these symptoms should contact a health care provider or go to an emergency room immediately.

Questions from the campus community can be directed to Students who are concerned or have questions about their health or are in need of counseling or support are encouraged to contact UHS at 608-265-5600. For students experiencing symptoms after hours, the UHS nurse line is available at 608-265-5600 (option 1).

The Wisconsin Immunization Registry contains records for children and adults who were vaccinated in state.