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Meningitis Vaccine

What is Meningococcal Meningitis? 

                                      • Meningococcal Meningitis is a deadly bacterial infection of the tissue layer surrounding the brain and spinal cord (the meninges). 

How do you get it? 

· 5 main groups of bacteria can cause the infection: A, B, C, W-135, and Y.

· The bacteria are mainly spread by the transmission of oral secretions (e.g. kissing, sharing drinks, silverware, etc.).

· Once spread, they can travel to the meninges and cause meningitis.

 

Who is at risk?  

·         Meningitis is not common, but 5-10% of the population can carry the bacteria and spread it to others without ever showing symptoms of meningitis.     

  •      People living in close quarters such as residence halls or “dorm-style living” have an increased risk of contracting meningitis.  

What are the symptoms?  

·         Symptoms may include fever (sudden onset), stiff neck (with pain upon movement), and headache, possibly in combination with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and confusion.  

·         Symptoms begin to show approximately 3-7 days after infection.

 

What do I do if I think I have meningitis?  

·         Go directly to Student Health Services (SHS) on Shepley Drive on the South 40 during business hours.  

·         After business hours, call EST at 314-935-5555 on campus or 911 off campus.

 

How is it treated?  

·         Early treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics is crucial because meningitis can be fatal.  

·        The fatality rate is 10-15% even with appropriate me​dical care. Without            treatment it is as high as 40%.

 

How can I protect myself?  

  •           Vaccines are available to prevent meningococcal  meningitis:  

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      The primary vaccine will guard against those cases of meningitis caused by strains A, C, W-135, and Y. This vaccine is approved by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) and recommended by the Centers for D​isease Control (CDC). It is required for entrance to most colleges and ​universities, including Wash U.  Wash U requires it for all freshmen and recommends it for all students living in residence.  Available at SHS, it is covered by most insurance companies.  Use the student portal at shs.wustl.edu to make an appointment.

A new vaccine, released in June 2015, protects against the B strain of bacteria that was responsible for several recent outbreaks. The B vaccine is not yet recommended by the CDC for widespread use.  It is covered by some insurance companies including the Wash U United Health Plan.  Check with your insurance company regarding coverage and make an appointment with your SHS provider to discuss this new vaccine. 

  • Don’t assume you’re immune. The primary vaccine has not always been included in the standard vaccinations during childhood. Check your immunization records. There is a good chance that you have not had the primary vaccine and are susceptible to infection. If you haven’t had it, make an appointment at shs.wustl.edu to get protected as soon as possible.