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UC Santa Barbara Announces Fourth Confirmed Meningitis Case

Update Date: Dec 03, 2013 11:17 AM EST

The United States is currently dealing with a second meningitis outbreak that is occurring at the University of California (UC) of Santa Barbara. The first outbreak of this bacterial infection took place on the other end of the country at Princeton University where there were eight confirmed cases this year. On Monday, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced its fourth case of meningitis on the campus. UC Barbara has since suspended all fraternity events ad parties.

According to the Health Department, all four of the people were infected last month. The first two confirmed cases were male students with the first victim falling ill on November 11. For one of the patients, doctors were forced to amputate his feet due to the infection. The patient was a freshman lacrosse player, Aaron Loy, whose infection negatively affected the blood supply to his feet. Loy is still currently hospitalized according to UT San Diego. Based on the most recent case, officials reported that the estimated number of people who could have been exposed to the bacteria expanded from 300 to 500. The university has boosted the cleaning procedures at all residence halls, sporting facilities and recreation centers.

Three of the confirmed cases have been caused by the B Strain of the meningitis bacteria. This strain, with a difference genetic fingerprint, was also responsible for the cases at Princeton University. The meningitis vaccine available in the U.S. protects against most strains of meningitis but it does not protect against the B strain. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had previously imported a vaccine called Bexsero from Europe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved the vaccine for the students at Princeton University.

Meningitis causes inflammation of the protective membranes surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. Symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and headaches. Meningitis kills around one in 10 infected people and causes permanent damage, such as limb loss or mental retardation in around 20 percent of the people who survive the infection. The condition is contagious and can be spread via close contact with others or sharing items, such as cups and utensils.

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