Princeton mulls use of foreign vaccine to curb meningitis outbreak

The vaccine will protect against serotype B meningitis but hasn't been approved for use in the U.S.
Posted By Ananth Baliga  |  Updated Nov. 18, 2013 at 10:28 AM
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(UPI) -- Princeton University officials are mulling the use of Bexsero, a vaccine which can protect against serogroup B meningitis but is not approved for use in the U.S., after a seventh student contracted the disease.

Officials are expected to make a decision as early as Monday in response to the meningitis outbreak on campus, which has hospitalized seven students since March.

While the six people previously infected have recovered, the university wants to take strong steps toward curbing this outbreak. The vaccine that can protect against this particular type of meningitis, developed by Novartis, has already been approved for use in Europe and Australia.

The Centers for Disease Control has received special permission from the Food and Drug Administration to import Bexsero. But Barbara Reynolds, a CDC spokeswoman, said the vaccination would be voluntary.

Serotype B meningitis is not as contagious as the common cold or the flu, but it does spreads through the sharing of utensils, cigarettes and being in close contact to a person infected. The university has asked people to be careful when sharing drinks and asked them to avoid kissing. Red cups labeled “Mine. Not Yours” serve as reminders not to share drinks at parties.

According to the CDC, approximately 800–1,500 cases of meningococcal disease occur annually in the United States.

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