Onondaga County Health Commissioner, Dr. Indu Gupta, is confirming a single, isolated case of serogroup B meningococcal meningitis in a Syracuse University student. The individual, who was hospitalized, has since been discharged and is recovering at home. The student’s close contacts, who are at increased risk of infection from this case, have been identified and provided with antibiotic prophylaxis. The general Syracuse University community is not at increased risk from this isolated case.
Meningococcal disease is a rare, but very serious illness caused by a type of bacterium called Neisseria meningitidis. People spread meningococcal bacteria to other people by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit). Generally, it takes close contact (for example, coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact to spread these bacteria. Fortunately, they are not as contagious as germs that cause the common cold or the flu. People do not catch them through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with meningococcal disease has been.
Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent meningococcal disease. Other ways to prevent infection include washing your hands often and avoiding sharing things like silverware, drinking containers, lipstick, and smoking materials.
The Onondaga County Health Department is working closely with the New York State Department of Health and Syracuse University and will continue monitoring the situation. Individuals who have questions about meningococcal meningitis or other forms of meningococcal disease can contact Syracuse University Health Services, their healthcare provider or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meningococcal disease website at www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/.