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Meningitis outbreak at OSU raises awareness once again



University of Oregon’s neighbor Oregon State University confirmed its third case of Meningitis last week, and the UO Health Center has under-taken another effort to alert students of the dangers of the disease.

OSU stated on its website that the outbreak is not an emergency, but health authorities suggest students keep close tabs on their health throughout the end of winter term.

According to Oregon Public Health, UO experienced its own outbreak in 2015, with seven documented cases and one resulting in death. The outbreak was followed with mass vaccinations for incoming UO students, which UO Health Center Medical Director Dr. Richard Brunader claims has helped reduce the number of cases.

Though meningitis is potentially life-threatening, it is not an extremely common or easily contracted disease.

“It is not a very prevalent thing,” said Brunader. “Its transmissibility is not that great.”

Brunader described meningitis as a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. There are nine subtypes of the disease, and the one that is currently being handled is type B.

Symptoms of Meningitis are often difficult to distinguish from a common cold or flu, according to Brunader, and can consist of fever, drowsiness, headache, stiff muscle aches or rash. Over time the disease progresses and the symptoms become more abnormal.

In order to avoid contracting Meningitis, students should avoid close contact with others who are feeling unwell. This includes sharing drinks, exchanging saliva and smoking. Students living in residence halls are most susceptible to contracting the virus and are advised to wash their hands as frequently as possible.

“Everybody is sick all the time,” said Brunader. “But if this seems different, it’s better for us to look than to guess.”

Meningitis B and ACWY vaccinations are available at the UO Health Center. For more information, visit https://healthcenter.uoregon.edu/meningitis.

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Natalie Waitt-Gibson

Natalie Waitt-Gibson