A third student at Santa Clara University was diagnosed with meningococcal disease, a serious and sometimes deadly infection, the Santa Clara County Health Department announced Thursday.
All three students have been infected with the serogroup B strain of the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, according to health department spokeswoman Allison Thrash.
Two students remained hospitalized Thursday morning and are listed in fair condition, officials said. A third student was discharged in good condition.
All three fell ill Jan. 31, but only two cases were reported Wednesday. Health officials said one of the students suffered meningococcal meningitis, an infection of the brain and spine, while the other had developed meningococcemia, an infection of the bloodstream.
2 Cases of Meningitis at Santa Clara University
Because serogroup B vaccines were only approved by the FDA in 2014 and 2015, most people are not vaccinated against this particular strain, authorities said Wednesday. Santa Clara University has set up free vaccination clinics for students.
More than 200 students have receieved preventative antiobiotics so far, according to Thrash, who is urging the rest of the campus community to follow suit.
Meningococcal meningitis, a bacteria most common in Africa, is carried in the throat and back of the nose. It’s transmitted by saliva and mucus during “prolonged close contact,” often by kissing, sneezing, coughing and sharing eating utensils, according to the World Health Organization.
Even when meningococcal meningitis is diagnosed and treated early, 5 to 10 percent of patients die, typically within one to two days after the onset of symptoms, according to the WHO. Left untreated, about half of patients die.
Symptoms include fever, headache and a stiff neck. Patients may also experience nausea, vomiting, confusion and sensitivity to light, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms typically develop within three to seven days of infection.
According to the National Meningitis Association, serogroup B accounts for about a third of U.S. cases of meningococcal disease. Four college campuses have suffered outbreaks between March 2013 and June 2015, including the University of Oregon, Providence College, Princeton University and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Two of the outbreaks were fatal, and one resulted in a student having both feet amputated, according to the NMA. Other infected students suffered neurological problems.
Vaccination clinics will be held at Santa Clara University from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday on the Concourse Level of Leavey Center.
The health department will be issuing daily updates online.
Ari Mason contributed to this report.