A Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) student and Isla Vista resident was hospitalized last week after being diagnosed with serogroup B meningitis.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department notified UCSB Student Health that an SBCC student had been recently diagnosed with a strain of meningitis. There was another case of meningitis at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo last month, prompting Student Health to release an email announcement on warning signs and forms of prevention for the disease.
Meningitis B can lead to severe complications, including death. It is spread through close contact, such as exchanges of saliva through kissing, sharing drinks, cigarettes or eating utensils. Signs of meningitis B include a sudden onset of fever, severe headache and stiff neck, as well as vomiting, rash and confusion.
According to Student Health, the Public Health Department contacted the hospitalized I.V. resident’s roommates and close contacts, who are also SBCC students. All were treated with antibiotics as a preventative measure.
Dr. Mary Ferris, executive director of UCSB Student Health, said Student Health is in communication with county public health officials who have treated all of the patient’s close contacts. Since the recent infection, there have been no additional cases of meningitis B reported as of Thursday, when the announcement was sent out.
According to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department’s online record of diseases, there have been a total of 19 cases of bacterial meningitis in the county in the past three years, not including 2017.
Dr. Ferris said there have been no meningitis B cases in I.V. or UCSB since the four cases reported in November 2013.
In order to prevent the spread of diseases, Dr. Ferris said she suggests frequent hand washing, covering coughs and avoiding sharing cups, glasses and eating utensils.
Student Health suggests seeking immediate treatment if citizens develop any of the previously listed symptoms.
Student Health offers walk-in meningitis vaccines weekdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m covered by Gaucho Health Insurance or billed to BARC accounts.