Health officials recommend no action for possible meningitis exposure

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Two cases of meningococcal meningitis in the parents of Penn State students whose fraternity held a function on April 5 to 7 have been investigated by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which has indicated that no medical intervention is needed by those who may have attended the event. Officials said attendees, including residents of the fraternity, are not at increased risk of acquiring the disease.

Epidemiologists with the state Department of Health today (April 15) report that the type of exposure and contact -- which was not prolonged -- and the length of time that has passed since the event was held by Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity does not warrant prophylactic antibiotic treatment for those who visited the fraternity during its Parents Weekend or those who reside at the fraternity house. Antibiotics are occasionally used following close contact with individuals with meningococcal meningitis. Meningitis is transmitted by large droplets expelled by coughing or sneezing.

A vaccine (MenactraTM or MenveoTM) that prevents four of the five common types of meningococcal disease is recommended for adolescents. Pennsylvania state law requires all students living in University-owned housing complete the Meningococcal Vaccine Certification form, indicating the dates of vaccination. Recent recommendations call for a second dose of this vaccine for young adults who were vaccinated prior to their 16th birthday. The vaccine is available at University Health Services by appointment and for a fee for students in need of either a first or second

A fact sheet from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and listed under "Meningococcal Disease" provides more information. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control also offers information at http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/index.html.

Anyone who attended the Penn State event and who may be experiencing illness or is concerned about their health, should contact their own health care provider for advice or the Pennsylvania Department of Health at 570-327-3400. Any students who are concerned should visit University Health Services. University health officials are following the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Department of Health in reserving further action. People should take antibiotics only when they’re prescribed by a doctor and students should ask their family physician if they have received all the vaccinations needed to protect against meningitis and other illnesses.

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Last Updated April 15, 2013