UO restrained the meningococcemia bacteria, is it enough?
With three cases of bacteria meningococcemia confirmed within a month, the university has been on high alert with a possible outbreak. But the tension has died out in less than a week after the third case was confirmed, according to student Jake Wilmink, the roommate of the second student diagnosed with the infectious bacteria.
“It seems like if we haven’t been affected by now, there’s a good chance we are not going to be,” Wilmink said. “I feel comfortable now.”
Among three infected students, one of them is a resident in Earl Hall, a newly-remodeled residence hall. She and the first student who contracted the bacteria are reported to be in stable condition and have been released from treatment.
“We have three confirmed cases, but no one has died from it,” Health Center Director Michael Eyster said, “We feel very fortunate about that.”
UO has experienced two students’ deaths from this bacteria a couple years back, and the alert for prevention is high. The university is still working closely with Lane County Health to identify those at risk and prevent the outbreak with antibiotics, but students said there’s still room for improvement.
Officials of the UO Health Center were available at Earl Hall to aid in controlling the situation the night the second case was confirmed.
Eyster said staff provided antibiotics to 145 residents in the hall.
In addition, groups of students sat down with staff to discuss the bacteria and ways to prevent the spreading.
“Most students were light-hearted and in good nature,” Eyster said.
Wilmink took the antibiotic after the case was confirmed, but he said the university should have approached the issue differently.
“I don’t know why they didn’t give us enough information about it,” Wilmink said. “They should have sat all of us in a room and made (the information section) mandatory. So chances are, there are kids in my hall that didn’t have medication, and that could be a problem.”
UO student Madison Kichler said the university is keeping the issue under control.
“I think they are doing their best,” Kichler said. “But still, living in the dorm is kind of scary now.”
Kichler and her friend, Michelle McKenna, said they got an email about the bacteria, but they didn’t know the university is offering medical attention for concerned students.
Medical help is available for students’ needs, but it’s up to the students to seek help. Eyster said the university has given out around 300 doses of antibiotics to those that might have been in close contact with the three infected patients.
Oregon is one of 12 states which does not require students to be vaccinated for meningococcemia in its immunization requirement, according to the Immunization Action Coalition.
Eyster said the university didn’t have the vaccine until October 2014.
“There was no vaccine for strain B before, and we just got a few doses in last week,” Eyster said. “We are definitely considering to mandate the vaccine in the future. In the meantime we are learning as much information as we can about the vaccines.”
Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.