IMPORTANT NOTE: All new students, regardless of classification, must
provide documentation of meningococcal vaccination. This is a Texas
State law. This also applies to students who have missed a semester of enrollment and are returning. Vaccination must be within the past 5 years and must occur 10 days or more in advance of
orientation week (or planned on-campus arrival date). A student who is
delinquent in this requirement will not be permitted to enroll.
The vaccine is available at local pharmacies and clinics for approximately $130-$200.
What is Meningitis?
Meningococcal meningitis is a form of bacterial meningitis (an infection
of the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord) caused by the bacterium
Neisseria meningitidis. There are approximately 1400-2800 cases of meningococcal
meningitis in the US each year. Despite the fact that this illness can be treated
with antibiotics, the fatality rate--even with rapid intervention--is approximately 15%.
Additionally, up to 20% of survivors have permanent sequelae (e.g., neurological
More information is available from the Texas Department of Public Health.
Symptoms of meningococcal meningitis include:
- severe headache
- neck stiffness
This may develop over several hours or take 1 to 2 days. Additional symptoms may
include nausea/vomiting, confusion, or seizures.
Freshmen and Meningitis
In the US it has been demonstrated that freshmen living in on-campus housing
are at higher risk of contracting meningococcal disease than other students.
(Approximately 5 cases per 100,000 students per year vs. a baseline rate of
approximately 1 case per 100,000 per year.) Other at risk groups include military
recruits, travelers to areas in which meningococcal disease is hyperendemic or
epidemic, microbiologists who are routinely exposed to isolates of Neisseria
meningitidis, patients with anatomic or functional asplenia, and patients with
terminal complement deficiency.
Additional risk factors include:
- Smoking (active and passive)
- Recent upper respiratory illness
- Corticosteroid use
- New residence
- New school
- Household crowding
During outbreaks, recent alcohol use and bar patronage have also been shown to
increase risk of contracting the disease.
Vaccines are available. Menactra (tm) and Menveo
provide protection for 4 out of the 5 serogroups (types) of meningococcal
meningitis (serogroups A,C,Y,W-135). Serogroup B meningococcal meningitis
accounts for about one-third of cases and two new vaccines, Trumeba and Bexsero, are now available.