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Nov 22, 2013 01:47 PM EST

Mini-Meningitis Outbreak At UC Santa Barbara: Three Cases In Two Weeks


Three UC Santa Barbara students have been diagnosed with meningococcal disease, or the bacterial infection that causes meningitis, over the last two weeks; the third case was announced Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

meningococcal disease can affect various parts of the body, including the bloodstream, brain, and spinal cord. When it impairs the brain and spinal cord, it's called meningitis, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Currently, health officials are calling the infection behind UC Santa Barbara's mini outbreak Meningococcal disease, according to the LA Times.

The first case was a male diagnosed Nov. 11. The second was also a male, diagnosed sometime after Nov. 11. Thursday's announcement pertained to a female. Health officials have pinpointed over 300 students who may have come into contact with the three students and given them antibiotics, the LA Times reported.

Meningococcal disease and meningitis cause symptoms that start slow, but quickly worsen. If left untreated, the symptoms could be lethal; however, antibiotics are an effective manner by which to treat the illness, according to the CDC.

At Princeton, the outbreak that's affected eight students over the last six months is of meningitis B, a strain of the disease that is still treatable, but doesn't have a vaccination legal in the U.S. To prevent further cases, the CDC successful petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to allow Princeton to import the vaccine onto campus. Princeton officials decided last week they would offer the vaccine next month.

Like Princeton, UC Santa Barbara is trying to stem the disease's spread through more traditional means like intensifying cleaning procedures in residence halls, cafeterias, and athletic facilities, the LA Times reported. Students have also been reminded to wash their hands and to avoid sharing eating instruments.

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