Student Health Service

To Promote and Advance the Health and Wellbeing of our Students

Updated Meningitis Information

FAQs Regarding Meningitis

Meningitis Updates:

March 22, 2017 Meningitis Update

The Wake Forest student who was treated for meningitis is doing well and has been discharged from the hospital. Infectious disease specialists have confirmed that the individual is no longer contagious and poses no ongoing risk of transmission of this infection. No other cases of bacterial meningitis have since been identified in Forsyth County or the Wake Forest campus.

The type of bacteria causing the infection was identified as Neisseria meningitidis. There are five serogroups (“strains”) of Neisseria meningitidis: A, B, C, W and Y that cause most disease worldwide. Three of these serogroups (B, C and Y) cause most of the illness seen in the United States. The North Carolina State Department of Public Health Laboratory has identified the particular strain of bacteria causing the infection of the Wake Forest student to be Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B. Serogroup B Neisseria meningitidis usually causes sporadic rather than outbreaks of infection.

In collaboration with Forsyth County Health Department, Wake Forest University Campus Life staff have identified and administered preventive antibiotics to all individuals who had contact that would place them at risk of infection. The prophylactic antibiotics administered are effective in preventing any of the serotypes of Neisseria Meningitidis.

Local and state health officials and the Section on Infectious Diseases at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have advised us that all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of infection to our community have been successfully implemented. At this time they are not recommending the use of the Meningitis B vaccine in response to this student’s infection.

Wake Forest Student Health Service supports the appropriate use of vaccinations to keep our students healthy. The following information from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) provides the most recent recommendations regarding the use of the meningitis vaccines in the United States:

Conjugated Meningococcal Vaccine (Menactra or Menveo)

CDC recommends this vaccine for adolescents and those who will be attending college. The majority of our students have received adequate dosing of this vaccine prior to coming to campus. Individuals who have not received adequate doses of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Menactra or Menveo), should consider receiving this vaccine as a way to reduce the general risk of infection with meningitis strains A, C, Y or W while in college. For those students who were first immunized with this vaccine at between the ages of 11 and 13 and who have not received a booster dose at or after age 16 should consider a booster dose to reduce their risk of meningococcal infection during their college years.

Meningitis B Vaccine (Bexsero and Trumenba)

CDC recommends vaccination for meningitis B for individuals with certain medical conditions or who take certain medications which can suppress the immune system. CDC does not recommend routine immunization with this vaccine in otherwise healthy college students. While immunization of our student body is not recommended at this time to further reduce the risk from this recent case, some parents and students have opted to receive Meningitis B vaccine prior to college as part of their overall individual immunization plan. Medical insurance companies may not cover the cost of this vaccine.

CDC recommendations for meningitis vaccines can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mening/index.html

How can I check to see if I have already received the vaccine(s) recommended by CDC?

To determine if you have had this vaccine, log into the Student Health Web Portal and choose “My Profile” to see your immunization record.

Does Student Health Service have these vaccines available?

Yes, Student Health Service has these vaccines available. If you are interested receiving this vaccine, please call the Student Health Service at x5218 (336-758-5218) and choose option “0” when prompted to schedule an appointment for this vaccine.

Sincerely,

Joanne Clinch, Clinical Director, Student Health Service

 March 19, 2017 Meningitis Update

Update by Dr. Joanne Clinch, Clinical Director of Student Health Service:

The Wake Forest student who was treated for meningitis is doing well and has been discharged from the hospital. Infectious disease specialists have confirmed that the individual is no longer contagious and poses no ongoing risk of transmission of this infection.

In collaboration with the Forsyth County Health Department, Wake Forest University Campus Life staff have identified and administered preventive antibiotics to all individuals who had contact that would place them at risk of infection.

Meningitis is not a highly contagious disease. It requires direct and extended contact with saliva, nasal and throat secretions of an infected person to transmit infection. According to infectious disease expert Dr. Chris Ohl (Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center), “Less than one percent of close contacts may develop infection and this risk can be decreased to zero with an appropriate dose of antibiotics by mouth.”

Individuals who have been treated to prevent infection also pose no risk of transmitting infection to others. Local and state health officials have confirmed that all necessary measures to reduce the risk of ongoing cases of meningitis have been successfully implemented at this time.

Communication sent to campus March 17, 2017 Regarding Meningitis

This message is sent on behalf of Joanne Clinch, Clinical Director of Student Health Service, and Adam Goldstein, Dean of Students:

Dear Wake Forest students, faculty and staff:

Wake Forest University Student Health Service has received updated information about the student who was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis on March 16. The student is in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery. The infection has been confirmed to be Neisseria meningitidis (bacterial meningitis), but results of testing to identify which strain (A, C, W, Y or B) of this bacteria will not be available for a few days.

Student Health Service will continue to work with the Forsyth County Health Department and infectious disease experts at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to receive information and guidance as it becomes available. All future updates will be provided on the Student Health Service website. If you have any additional questions about the University’s ongoing response, you may call x7500 (336-758-7500) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.

Working with local and state health officials, Wake Forest Campus Life staff have successfully identified and contacted all known individuals at risk of exposure and provided antibiotics to prevent transmission of this infection. Individuals who have not been contacted by Student Health Service are not at risk and do not need to take any precautions. While all strains of Neisseria meningitidis can be occasionally transmitted from person to person during prolonged close contact, the risk of transmission is quite low. Less than one percent of close contacts may develop infection and this risk can be decreased to zero with an appropriate dose of antibiotics by mouth.

Local and state health officials and the Section on Infectious Diseases at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have advised us that all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of infection to our community have been successfully implemented. They also have provided the following information about immunizations to prevent meningitis:

Meningitis B Vaccine (Bexsero and Trumenba)
CDC recommends vaccination for meningitis B for individuals with certain medical conditions or who take certain medications which can suppress the immune system. CDC does not recommend routine immunization with this vaccine in otherwise healthy college students. Immunization of our student body is not recommended at this time to further reduce the risk from this recent case. Medical insurance companies may not cover the cost of this vaccine.

Conjugated Meningococcal Vaccine (Menactra or Menveo)
CDC does recommend this vaccine for adolescents and those who will be attending college. The majority of our students have received adequate dosing of this vaccine prior to coming to campus. Individuals who have not received adequate doses of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Menactra or Menveo), should consider receiving this vaccine as a way to reduce the general risk of infection with meningitis strains A, C, Y or W while in college. For those students who were first immunized with this vaccine at between the ages of 11 and 13 and who have not received a booster dose at or after age 16 should consider a booster dose to reduce their risk of meningococcal infection during their college years.

CDC recommendations for meningitis vaccines can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mening/index.html

How can I check to see if I have already received these vaccines?
To determine if you have had this vaccine, log into the Student Health Web Portal and choose “My Profile” to see your immunization record.

Does Student Health Service have these vaccines available?
Yes, Student Health Service has these vaccines available. If you are interested receiving this vaccine, please call the Student Health Service at x5218 (336-758-5218) and choose option “0” when prompted to schedule an appointment for this vaccine.

The University will continue to monitor this situation.

Sincerely,

Joanne Clinch, Clinical Director, Student Health Service
Adam Goldstein, Dean of Students

Communication sent to campus March 16, 2017 Regarding Meningitis

Wake Forest University Student Health Service has been informed that an undergraduate student tested positive for bacterial meningitis this morning. The student is currently being treated for this condition at a local hospital. No other recent cases of meningitis have been reported at Wake Forest.

Wake Forest is following the direction of the Forsyth County Health Department and infectious disease experts at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to minimize the risk of infection to our community. For privacy reasons, the University is not releasing the student’s name, though a team of Campus Life professionals is identifying and notifying individuals who may have had close contact with the student. At the advice of local and state health officials, preventive antibiotics will be promptly provided to the individuals who have been identified.

General information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about meningitis, how it is spread, and how to protect yourself from infection includes:

  • Meningitis is a medical condition that is caused by inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It often affects children and young adults, although persons of any age can become infected. A small number of people with this infection will have a serious illness. This disease is most commonly seen in late winter and early spring.
  • Meningitis is NOT a highly communicable disease. It requires direct and extended contact with the saliva, nasal and throat secretions of infected persons. After exposure, symptoms may be seen within 2-10 days.
  • Symptoms may include the following: sudden onset of fever, severe headache, rash, stiff neck, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting. Preventive antibiotic treatment is only recommended for individuals who might have had close contact with the infected student.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, please contact Student Health Service at x5882 (336-758-5882) or your primary care physician right away. If you have general questions about the University’s ongoing response, you may call x7500 (336-758-7500) from 1 to 5 p.m. today. If updates or additional information for the campus community is needed, the Student Health Service website (http://shs.wfu.edu) will have the latest information.