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Public health officials worried about possible meningitis outbreak at Rutgers

Laboratory tests indicate that both students infected with bacterial meningitis acquired the same strain, but no common links were found between the two cases. Public health officials are concerned of a meningitis outbreak on the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus. – Photo by Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez | The Daily Targum

The two Rutgers students hospitalized for meningitis both acquired the same type B (MenB) strain of the bacterial infection, according to an email sent to the University community by Melodee Lasky, assistant vice chancellor for Health and Wellness.

While both students had genetically identical strains of the bacteria, there was no common link found between the patients, which Lasky said suggests the strain is present on campus.

Public health officials are worried these cases may signify an outbreak because the students were infected over a short period of time, according to the email. The first student was hospitalized with bacterial meningitis on March 18 and the second student was hospitalized on May 1. 

"Although there have been only two cases, public health officials are concerned that this may represent an outbreak since the two cases have occurred over a relatively short period of time," Lasky said. "Of course, we cannot predict whether there will be additional cases of MenB associated with Rutgers University—New Brunswick."

Laboratory tests indicate that both students had infections caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup (type) B (MenB), Lasky's email said.

With President Barack Obama speaking at Rutgers' commencement on Sunday, Lasky said there are no recommendations or plans to cancel scheduled events on on campus.

Avalon Zoppo is the managing editor of The Daily Targum. She is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science. Follow her on Twitter @AvalonZoppo for more stories.

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