OSU, state urge vaccinations to fight meningitis outbreak
Oregon health officials urged Oregon State University students to get vaccinations for the meningococcal B disease during winter break after a sixth case of the illness was reported this month.
OSU officials and representatives from the Oregon Health Authority told reporters Wednesday, Dec. 20, that the university would require all students on the Corvallis campus 25 and younger to be vaccinated for the disease by Feb. 15.
"In light of the university's new vaccination requirement, most OSU students remain unvaccinated and their time over the holidays might be the best opportunity for them to be vaccinated," said Dr. Paul Cieslak, the health authority's medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations.
Cieslak said the state declared in February an outbreak of the illness in Corvallis, and the most recent case shows the need for action to prevent further spread of the disease.
"Oregon State University takes the health and welfare of its students, employees and the public very seriously," said Steve Clark, OSU vice president for university relations and marketing.
Clark told reporters the university has contacted students and their families several times during the past several months to warn about the illness and urge vaccinations. OSU also has held at least two vaccination clinics on campus, he said.
A 21-year-old OSU student was hospitalized Dec. 17 with meningitis while visiting family. Test are being done to determine if is the same strain of meningococcal bacteria that caused other OSU cases. If confirmed, it would be the sixth case of the disease at OSU's Corvallis campus since November 2016, and the third since October.
Cieslak said doctors should be aware of the illness "when college students, particularly those with links to OSU, show up with unexplained high fever, headache, stiff neck or rash, and report any suspected cases promptly to their local public health department."