UI official: Meningitis infection limited to single student

UI official: Meningitis infection limited to single student

URBANA — Meningoccal meningitis on the local University of Illinois campus appears to be confined to the lone student who was hospitalized last week, according to a UI official.

Authorities have completed the task of contacting friends and others living in close contact with the student at Leonard Hall in the Lincoln Avenue Residence Halls to see if others might be at risk for the illness, and additional cases weren't found, according to campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler.

The student was admitted to Carle Foundation Hospital last Tuesday and was still in the hospital as of Saturday, according to a UI announcement.

An update on the student's condition wasn't available Monday. Kaler said the UI couldn't release any further information about the student's condition and whether he or she was still at the hospital without violating patient and student privacy laws.

According to a state requirement that went into effect for 2016-2017 school year, students under age 22 being newly admitted to college must show proof of having had at least one dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine on or after age 16.

The law allows for exceptions to the vaccine requirement for medical and religious reasons, but all exemptions must be approved by the university, Kaler said.

Proof of two doses of the conjugate vaccine must also be shown by incoming high school seniors in Illinois, with just a single dose required if the first one was administered at age 16 or older.

The conjugate vaccines Menactra and Menveo cover the four serogroups, or types, of the bacteria Neisseria meningitis — A,C W and Y strains. Those four, along with serogroup B, are said to cause the most meningococcal disease worldwide. The B, C and Y types cause most of the illness in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.

Vaccination remains optional for the newer, stand-alone vaccines Bexsero and Trumenba that protect against serotype B in kids and young adults ages 10-25. That vaccination isn't covered under state law, Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.

Serogroup B vaccination is recommended for those at increased risk for this particular infection, which includes anyone at risk because of a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak, anyone who has a damaged or removed spleen, and people with a certain rare immune system condition or those taking a certain drug for a life-threatening blood disease.

Julie Pryde, the administrator of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, said the strain involved in the recent UI student case hasn't yet been identified.

This was the first meningococcal case in Champaign County since 2008, she said.

Statewide, meningoccal meningitis cases have generally declined since 2000, when there were 91 cases — though there were nearly that many — 88 — in 2001 and 2008, according to state public health department. Last year, there were 18 cases in Illinois.

Cases of meningococcal meningitis in Illinois

Year Cases
2012 17
2013 10
2014 12
2015 15
2016 18

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health