Update on Wake Forest student diagnosed with meningitis

This message is sent on behalf of Joanne Clinch, Clinical Director of Student Health Service, and Adam Goldstein, Dean of Students:

Dear Wake Forest students, faculty and staff,

Wake Forest University Student Health Service has received updated information about the student who was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis on March 16. The student is in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery. The infection has been confirmed to be Neisseria meningitidis (bacterial meningitis), but results of testing to identify which strain (A, C, W or B) of this bacteria will not be available for a few days.

Student Health Service will continue to work with the Forsyth County Health Department and infectious disease experts at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to receive information and guidance as it becomes available. All future updates will be provided on the Student Health Service website. If you have any additional questions about the University’s ongoing response, you may call x7500 (336-758-7500) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.

Working with local and state health officials, Wake Forest Campus Life staff have successfully identified and contacted all known individuals at risk of exposure and provided antibiotics to prevent transmission of this infection. Individuals who have not been contacted by Student Health Service are not at risk and do not need to take any precautions. While all strains of Neisseria meningitidis can be occasionally transmitted from person to person during prolonged close contact, the risk of transmission is quite low. Less than one percent of close contacts may develop infection and this risk can be decreased to zero with an appropriate dose of antibiotics by mouth.

Local and state health officials and the Section on Infectious Diseases at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have advised us that all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of infection to our community have been successfully implemented. They also have provided the following information about immunizations to prevent meningitis:

Meningitis B Vaccine (Bexsero and Trumenba)

CDC recommends vaccination for meningitis B for individuals with certain medical conditions or who take certain medications which can suppress the immune system. CDC does not recommend routine immunization with this vaccine in otherwise healthy college students. Immunization of our student body is not recommended at this time to further reduce the risk from this recent case. Medical insurance companies may not cover the cost of this vaccine.

Conjugated Meningococcal Vaccine (Menactra or Menveo)

CDC does recommend this vaccine for adolescents and those who will be attending college. The majority of our students have received adequate dosing of this vaccine prior to coming to campus. Individuals who have not received adequate doses of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Menactra or Menveo), should consider receiving this vaccine as a way to reduce the general risk of infection with meningitis strains A, C, C, Y or W while in college. For those students who were first immunized with this vaccine at between the ages of 11 and 13 and who have not received a booster dose at or after age 16 should consider a booster dose to reduce their risk of meningococcal infection during their college years.

CDC recommendations for meningitis vaccines can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mening/index.html

How can I check to see if I have already received these vaccines?

To determine if you have had this vaccine, log into the Student Health Web Portal and choose “My Profile” to see your immunization record.

Does Student Health Service have these vaccines available?

Yes, Student Health Service has these vaccines available. If you are interested receiving this vaccine, please call the Student Health Service at x5218 (336-758-5218) and choose option “0” when prompted to schedule an appointment for this vaccine.

The University will continue to monitor this situation.