The following is a message from Dr. Mary Ferris, executive director of UCSB's Student Health Service, to the campus community regarding meningococcal disease prevention and response:
January 9, 2014
To: Campus Community
From: Mary Ferris, MD, Student Health Executive Director and Campus Physician
Re: Meningococcal Disease Prevention and Response
Dear Community Members,
I hope that your winter break was a relaxing one, and that you are ready for the new quarter.
Although we have not had any additional cases of meningitis among UCSB students since late November, the campus is still considered to be experiencing an outbreak of serogroup B meningococcal disease. We know from previous outbreaks that cases can occur over several months, so it is important that we, as a community, remain attentive.
Please continue to be alert for the symptoms of the disease as well as the healthy habits that you can use as a precaution against spreading the disease, given its potential serious outcomes.
MENINGOCOCCAL DISEASE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
Symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, accompanied by any of the following: severe headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, increased sensitivity to light, confusion, and rash. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention.
MENINGOCOCCAL DISEASE PREVENTION:
Meningococcal disease is transmitted through direct exchange of respiratory and throat secretions by close personal contact, such as coughing, sharing drinks, and kissing, or being in close proximity for an extended period (e.g., roommates).
This infection is not spread by casual contact (e.g., classroom contact), touching doorknobs or other surfaces, or by breathing the air where a person with the disease has been. To help prevent the spread of meningococcal and other infectious diseases, everyone is urged to follow these precautions:
• Always cough into a sleeve or tissue, wash hands frequently, and use hand sanitizer often.
• Do not share anything that comes into contact with the mouth or nose, such as drinking glasses, water bottles, eating utensils and smoking materials.
Student Affairs has created educational posters with these messages that we encourage you to post widely.
As the Chancellor and I communicated in our December 23 message, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with support from the university and state and local health officials, is submitting an application to the Food and Drug Administration to expedite access to the serogroup B vaccine currently licensed for use in Europe, Australia and Canada. There are several additional steps that need to be taken before the vaccine is approved for use at UCSB during this outbreak.
We will continue to send out timely notices and post updates and additional information on our Student Health site as more specific information becomes available.
I wish you all the best for the coming quarter,
Mary Ferris, M.D.
Executive Director, Student Health Service