Fifth case of meningococcal disease reported at OSU

Three or more cases in a year qualify as outbreak

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Students at Oregon State University received an urgent email over the holiday weekend, warning the school’s ongoing outbreak of meningococcal disease had spread once again.

“This is the fifth OSU student to be treated for meningococcal disease in the past year,” the email read. “It is important that you are aware of this latest case.”

The Centers for Disease Control describes the disease as “any illness caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus. … They include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia).”

Three or more infections of the disease in one year qualifies as an outbreak.

Administrators said Sunday they don’t yet know which strain of the disease this latest student has.

“In 10 to 15 percent of all cases, death may result, as was the case with a University of Oregon student in February 2015. In 20 percent of cases, hearing loss, mental impairment and limb loss can result,” read the email.

Administrators told KGW on Sunday that the student at the center of this latest case, an undergraduate at OSU, was diagnosed Friday after their family realized their symptoms were in line with those of meningococcal disease.

The student was hospitalized that day and, as of Sunday afternoon, was listed in good condition.

Administrators are offering vaccines on campus, though they require at least two doses.

“That is really scary to hear,” said junior Arete Caldwell, of the diagnosis. “They keep saying that it’s not going to get worse, and then we hear about another kid who got sick. It just makes me worried, especially since it’s winter, and it’s so cold and everybody’s catching things.”

The alert comes a little more than a week before the start of finals on campus, which begin Dec. 4.

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