UMass Amherst students are being warned against kissing or being near people coughing for the sake of their health in the wake of two classmates being stricken with meningitis in less than three weeks.
Both students are hospitalized in stable condition, the first diagnosed with meningococcal disease on Oct. 24 and the second with bacterial meningitis this past weekend.
“Because these two students were not in close contact with each other, these two cases raise our level of concern,” Dr. George Cory, executive director of University Health Services, said in an email yesterday to the campus community.
Cory said the first case has been confirmed as a Serogroup B infection, which is not covered by the meningitis vaccine required for attending UMass Amherst. The Serogroup B vaccine is available at health services.
“As with all vaccines, protection is not immediate and should be thought of as a wise precaution for this winter and for several years to come,” Cory stressed.
The serotype of the second meningitis case has not yet been determined, he said.
In addition to thoroughly washing one’s hands, Cory offered this advice: “Don’t swap saliva. Avoid sharing food, drinks and personal items that contact saliva, including drinks from punch bowls.”
Meningococcal disease can lead to meningitis — a potentially deadly infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord — and infections of the blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.