University Park student hospitalized with meningococcal disease

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Health officials at Penn State were notified by the Pennsylvania Department of Health of a 19-year-old female student at the University Park campus who has been hospitalized with invasive meningococcal disease. All known contacts of this individual have been notified and have received appropriate antibiotic prophylaxis as a precautionary measure. At this time no further actions are recommended, but University Health Services personnel will continue to work with the Department of Health to monitor the situation.

Meningococcal disease is a serious infection that may develop rapidly and spread to multiple body systems. Early symptoms may include fever, severe headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to bright lights, confusion and lethargy. Symptoms may develop rapidly and for this reason, it is important to get medical care as soon as possible.

Meningococcal disease is typically not transmitted by routine or casual contact, but is spread by activities such as kissing, sharing eating utensils, drink containers, and toothbrushes, and by prolonged, close contact with an infected person.

College students are strongly encouraged to get the meningococcal vaccine prior to starting at Penn State; those who live in University-owned housing are required by Pennsylvania law to either be immunized against meningococcal disease or complete a waiver of exemption. In 2015, two meningitis vaccines, effective against specific strains of serogroup B meningococcal infections, were approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in college students. These vaccines, in addition to a dose of the meningococcal vaccine for serogroups A, C, W and Y received after age 16, can help to protect against the most common causes of meningococcal disease. Students can get the meningococcal vaccines at University Health Services by scheduling an appointment online at or by calling (814) 863-0774.

For additional information about meningococcal disease, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online at

Last Updated March 29, 2016