Meningococcal Cases Reported at Universities in U.S.

***The following is a message from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH)***

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals was notified this week that cases of meningoccocal invasive disease were reported at universities in California and New Jersey. No recent cases have been reported in Louisiana.

Meningococcal invasive disease includes meningococcal meningitis, septicemia, bacteriolo- gically confirmed pneumonia and any other disease with isolation of N. meningitidis in internal fluids or organs. Neisseria meningitides (also called meningococcus) is also a common colonizer of the upper respiratory tract.

Meningococcal disease can be spread from person to person by exchanging respiratory and throat secretions during close (for example, coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact, especially if living in the same dorm or household.

Many carry the bacteria in their throats without getting meningococcal disease. Although anyone can get meningococcal disease, adolescents and college freshmen who live in dormitories are at an increased risk. By law proof of Meningococcal immunization is required for all college freshmen in accordance to Act 251 and 711 effective August 15, 2006.

You can help prevent the spread of illnesses by:
*  Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
*  Wash your hands, especially before eating.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
*  Avoid sharing utensils, water bottles or other items contaminated by saliva or respiratory  secretions.
*  Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
*  Eat healthy foods and get plenty of rest.
*  Remain vigilant for signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease.
*  If sick, stay home fromschool or work to prevent the spread of disease to others.

Quick medical attention is extremely important if meningococcal disease is suspected.  People in the same household, roommates, or anyone with direct contact with a patient’s oral secretions (saliva) (such as a boyfriend or girlfriend) would be considered at increased risk of getting the infection. People who qualify as close contacts of a person with meningococcal disease should receive antibiotics to prevent them from getting the disease.

All confirmed cases of meningoccocal disease must be reported to the Department of Health and Hospitals within 24 hours.

To report a case, please reach out to us at the following contact information:
Ruben A Tapia, MPH, Director
Louisiana  Department of Health and Hospitals
Immunization Program
1450 L and A Road
Metairie, Louisiana 70001
Telephone (504) 838-5300
Teleprinter (504) 838-5206

For more information about meningococcal disease, visit