For the first time since 2019, a student at Binghamton University has been infected and hospitalized with meningococcal disease.
According to Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations at Binghamton University, the infection is an isolated case. Those who may have had “direct close contact” with the student were contacted by Decker Student Health Services and the Broome County Health Department and treated, according to a Dec. 3 B-Line News Addition.
Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis and can cause illnesses that are often severe or deadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the B-Line, “direct close contact” includes sharing glasses or utensils. The B-Line did not specify whether the student was residing on or off campus or whether the student received an immunization against meningococcal disease.
While immunized students can still contract the disease, the New York State Public Health Law requires all students enrolled in “six semester hours or the equivalent per semester, or at least four semester hours per quarter” to submit a meningococcal vaccination response form to their college or university. The form requires the student to either document their past immunization, receive an immunization within 30 days or affirm their decision to not receive a vaccination.
Joseph Freda, a senior majoring in integrative neuroscience, described their initial reaction to the announcement.
“When receiving the email from B-Line on [Dec.] 3, I was pretty upset when seeing what has occurred,” Freda wrote in an email. “Knowing how active the community within the campus is, I initially feared the infection could have been already spread to many others.”
In 2018, a similar B-Line was sent out regarding a staff member who had contracted Neisseria meningitidis, stating the staff member may have been contagious for 10 to 12 days. While this infection is believed to be an isolated case, Ansh Sharma, a sophomore majoring in psychology, said he felt the University may face difficulty in controlling a potential outbreak.
“I was glad that it was an isolated case, and I think the precautionary measures listed are pretty adequate, but I feel like it would be hard to get in touch with every person that they had shared a drink with or gotten in direct close contact,” Sharma said. “The only detail BU didn’t provide that I would’ve liked to know was the vaccination status of the person who got it.”
The B-Line encouraged those who have questions to contact Decker Student Health Services and those with symptoms to seek medical treatment.
“As always, if you develop symptoms such as high fever, headache, vomiting, stiff neck or rash, contact your health care provider or go to a hospital emergency room,” the B-Line read.