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Fourth case of meningitis reported at UC Santa Barbara

Three earlier cases reported were of the B strain of the disease, and one of the students has been permanently disabled.

By Ananth Baliga

Dec. 3 (UPI) -- University officials have suspended all parties and fraternity events at University of California at Santa Barbara after a fourth student was diagnosed with meningitis.

According to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, all four students became ill within three weeks in November, and the disease has resulted in the permanent disability of one of the students.

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Close to 500 students who were identified as close to the students have been given preventive antibiotics.

Three of the cases have been caused by the B strain of the disease, the same strain as the eight cases of meningitis reported at Princeton University. Officials are awaiting results of the fourth case.

According to CDC officials, while the outbreaks at both schools are caused by the same strain they have different genetic fingerprints.

This strain of the disease is not covered by a U.S. vaccine recommended for students. The Food and Drug Administration has allowed health officials at Princeton University to administer a vaccine, Bexcero, used in Europe and Australia, that can immunize against this strain of meningitis.

“We are working in close collaboration with state and local health officials to monitor the outbreak at UCSB,” said CDC spokesperson Jason McDonald. “And we are prepared to work with partners to make the serogroup B meningococcal vaccine available if the circumstances of this outbreak warrant its use.”

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[University of California at Santa Barbara] [Santa Barbara County Public Health Department] [NBC News]

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