6th case of meningococcemia at UO confirmed

The latest case is a 20-year-old male sophomore

Entrance of University of Oregon in Eugene. (uoregon.edu)
Entrance of University of Oregon in Eugene. (uoregon.edu)

EUGENE, Ore. (KOIN 6 News) — A sixth case of meningococcemia was confirmed at The University of Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority said Thursday.

The latest student with meningococcemia, a 20-year-old male sophomore, had class with another infected student.

A 19-year-old sophomore was confirmed as the university’s fifth case of the bacterial infection on March 12, U of O spokeswoman Julie Brown said.

Authorities will answer questions about the issue at 11 a.m., and are expected to appeal to parents to help get their students vaccinated.

The target audience for this vaccination plea: Parents of UO students returning home or planning a trip abroad during the break that starts March 23, officials said in a release.

“We need parents to help us get the word out to students about this dangerous, potentially deadly disease, and why it’s crucial for students to get the meningitis B shot right now,” said Paul Cieslak, M.D., medical director of infectious disease and immunization programs at the OHA Public Health Division in a statement. “No one should be complacent about this disease. University of Oregon undergraduates who have not been vaccinated are at risk of infection, serious illness and death.”

The school recently completed a four-day mass vaccination clinic aimed at protecting students from the infection. Citing privacy laws, the university wouldn’t say whether the latest student received a dose of the vaccine.

The 19-year-old lived in an off-campus student apartment complex with three roommates. He belongs to a fraternity. The roommates will receive antibiotics. Public health officials are trying to reach others who may have had close contact.

This is the first confirmed case of the potentially fatal blood infection meningococcemia since 18-year-old Lauren Jones died of the disease Feb. 17.

The other three students sickened since mid-January have recovered.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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