Carthage College would like to inform you of two potentially serious diseases with special implications for college students. Studies have shown that college students are at an increased risk of infection from meningitis and hepatitis B. Vaccines are available to prevent them.
Meningitis is an infection that can lead to dangerous swelling of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, as well as severe and permanent disabilities. This is a rare, but potentially fatal infection that often begins with symptoms that resemble the flu. Symptoms can include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, rash, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, and confusion. Meningitis is spread through the air via respiratory secretions or close contact with an infected person. This can include coughing, sneezing, kissing or sharing items like utensils, cigarettes, and drinking glasses. However, meningitis can be prevented with safe and effective vaccines. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College Health Association (ACHA) has recommended that all first-year college students living in residence halls should be immunized against meningococcal disease with the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4). The CDC has further recommended that a booster vaccine be given if the first vaccine was received before age 16. Other college students under 22 years of age who wish to reduce their risk for disease may also choose to be vaccinated.The MCV4 vaccine protects against four types of bacteria that cause meningitis—Types A, C, Y and W-135. The MCV4 vaccine is believed to be 85 to 100 percent effective at preventing infection from Types A, C, Y, and W-135, however this vaccine does not protect against serogroup B meningococcal disease.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed two serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccines. Trumenba® was approved in October 2014 and Bexsero® was approved in January 2015. Currently, these vaccines are approved for persons aged 10 years and older who are at an increased risk for meningococcal disease. This includes persons with persistent complement component deficiencies, persons with anatomic or functional asplenia, microbiologists routinely exposed to isolates of Neisseria meningitidis, and persons identified to be at risk because of a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak. If you are interested in receiving the meningitis vaccines, please contact your healthcare provider to discuss risks and benefits, and determine if these vaccines are right for you.
Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. Symptoms can include fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, and yellowing of the skin. These symptoms can last for several weeks, but hepatitis B can also cause a long-term illness that may lead to scarring of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, or death. Each year thousands of people get infected with hepatitis B, mostly young people. Hepatitis B is spread through contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected person. You can catch the virus by having unprotected sex, sharing drug needles, or by sharing personal items like razors and toothbrushes with someone who is infected. Vaccination is recommended for everyone age 18 or younger. Most incoming college students will have already had the vaccine series in childhood. The hepatitis B vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing infection and its chronic consequences. If you have not been vaccinated against hepatitis B and are interested in receiving the vaccination series, please contact your healthcare provider to discuss the risks and benefits, and determine if the vaccine is right for you. Three doses of the vaccine are needed for complete protection.
For more information about meningitis and hepatitis B and the vaccines available for these diseases, please review the pdf attachments from the Immunization Action Coalition, contact the Health and Counseling Center at 262-551-5710 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the websites of the CDC or the ACHA.