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  • Michael Misialek, MD

Princeton University is Getting an Unapproved Vaccine for Students


Meningitis can be spread by kissing, and that’s why some students at Princeton University have implemented a “no kissing” rule at the college. Since March, six students and one visitor have been diagnosed with meningitis at Princeton. Fortunately, at this time, there haven’t been any fatalities. The CDC has determined that all the cases have been due to Neisseria meningitidis serotype B (no, that’s not a typo).

First of all, what is meningitis?

Meningitis is inflammation of the membranous linings of the brain and spinal cord. The most common symptoms of meningitis include fever, stiff neck, headache, and altered mental status. Some forms of the illness may be associated with a rash.

The problem is that in the U.S., the vaccine for serotype B is not approved by the FDA. According to Dr. Michael Lew, chief of infectious disease at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, serotype B is “tough to design an effective vaccine against due to its low immunogenicity.” Also, serotype B has been relatively rare in the U.S., until recently, which is cause for concern. According to the CDC, it was responsible for 160 of the about 500 meningitis cases in the U.S. last year.

Visit Boston Magazine for the rest of my article.

#meningitis

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