The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed that the Silliman College freshman who was hospitalized on Sunday night for a possible case of bacterial meningitis has the disease.
Director of Yale Health Paul Genecin said in a Wednesday email to the Yale community that the student tested positive for a form of meningitis known as serogroup B meningococcal disease. The student, who was sent to Yale-New Haven Hospital this past weekend, is making successful progress, Genecin added.
Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway passed along Genecin’s email to the parents of Yale students to update them on the ongoing situation. Holloway added in the email that no additional cases have been reported since Sunday, and that Yale Health has been giving preventive antibiotics to anyone who might have had close contact with the student.
“Most cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease occur sporadically, and a single case does not meet the CDC definition of an outbreak,” Genecin said. “I am pleased with the response from the Yale community. To date, no additional cases have developed on campus.”
While every Yale student is required to receive a meningitis vaccine before matriculating, the infected student contracted a form of the disease that the vaccine does not protect against, Genecin said. But he added that a new version of the vaccine which covers serogroup B will be available to anyone in the Yale community between the ages of 18 and 25 who wishes to be vaccinated.
Last February, when a student had meningitis, Yale Health made vaccinations available to the entire University community. The updated age restrictions are due to FDA regulations, Genecin told the News.
For students with Yale Health Hospitalization/Specialty Coverage, the vaccine comes free of charge. However, students on other plans will be charged $306 for the vaccine, Genecin said.
Within Silliman, students were not largely concerned about the potential risks meningitis presents on campus. Silliman sophomore William Strench ’18 said he was not worried because the disease could only spread through close contact, so a campus outbreak seemed unlikely.
“I have not seriously thought about getting vaccinated in response to this,” Strench said. “Maybe I’m being irrational, but it hasn’t worried me that much.”
Silliman student Ariel Murphy ’18 said that although she is not particularly concerned about contracting meningitis, she will get the vaccine anyway to soothe her mother’s worries.
“The vaccine has no real downside and the benefit is the immunity it confers for the disease which if it strikes can be devastating,” Genecin told the News. “One way or another I think it is advisable to have it. We don’t know when there is only one [person infected] whether or not there will be an outbreak.”
In an email to the Silliman community on Monday, Silliman Master Nicholas Christakis advised students on how to prevent a potential infection. He cited frequent and thorough hand-washing, not sharing anything that comes into contact with the mouth or saliva and coughing and sneezing into tissues or a sleeve as methods of preventing infection.
He added in the email that meningococcal bacteria cannot be spread by shaking hands, breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been or touching doorknobs, clothing or sports equipment.
Yale Health offers a meningitis telephone hotline staffed by health professionals for those seeking more information about the case or about meningitis safety. The hotline number is 866-924-9253.