News Release
  
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   August 9, 2001

Christine Grant
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg
609-984-7160

 

Department of Health & Senior Services Reminds College Students
About the Benefits of the Meningococcal Meningitis Vaccine

TRENTON - The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services is encouraging all incoming college freshmen attending a four-year college to consider receiving a meningococcal vaccine as a preventive measure before entering college for the fall semester.

Studies have indicated that college freshmen attending four-year colleges are considered at increased risk for meningocccal meningitis because the disease is more likely to occur when people are living in close quarters for the first time.

"Vaccination is the best preventive measure against meningitis," said state epidemiologist and Health and Senior Services assistant commissioner Dr. Eddy Bresnitz. "All college freshmen should put getting a vaccine on their 'to do' list as they prepare to leave for the college for the first time."

The department has also produced an informational brochure on preventing meningoccocal meningitis. The brochure has been mailed to all New Jersey four-year colleges for their use and distribution and is available on the department's website at www.state.nj.us/health/cd/meningitis.pdf.

New Jersey has less than 100 cases of meningoccocal meningitis annually. Besides college freshmen, infants, older people with weakened immune systems, military recruits living in barracks and travelers visiting parts of the world where the disease occurs more frequently are also at increased risk.

Although the vaccine is not required for college entry, New Jersey is one of several states in the nation that require four-year colleges and universities to advise incoming students about meningoccocal meningitis and the availability of a preventive vaccine. Vaccines are available from private physicians as well as most college student health services.

Symptoms of meningoccocal meningitis, which is an infection of a person's spinal cord fluid and fluid surrounding the brain, include high fever, severe headaches, stiff neck, confusion, nausea and vomiting. A physician should be consulted as soon as symptoms occur because this disease can progress rapidly and could be potentially fatal unless appropriate antibiotic treatment is begun in time.

In most cases, the bacteria that cause meningitis can be passed from person to person through kissing, sharing of food and eating utensils, or having other direct contact with respiratory secretions.

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