Students with meningitis released from hospital

All three of the Santa Clara University students who had been hospitalized after they were infected with meningitis have been released in good condition, Santa Clara County public health officials said Tuesday.

The three undergraduate students who became ill on Jan. 30 were found with the serogroup B strain of the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, public health officials said.

One of the students was discharged on Thursday but the other two had remained hospitalized until now.

Public health officials said two of the ill students developed meningitis as a result of a bacterial infection and the third developed a blood infection known as septicemia.

Clinics that were a cooperative effort between the university and the Santa Clara Public Health Department, with assistance from the California Department of Public Health, administered 4,923 doses of meningococcal B vaccine to students for free at the university’s campus on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday.

The vaccine protects against the serogroup B strain of meningococcal infection.

Public health officials said the California Department of Public Health, which is using federal funds from the immunization program administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provided the doses of the vaccine for the purpose of outbreak response and control and will provide an additional 5,000 doses next month, when students return for their second dose in the two-dose vaccine series.

The retail cost of each dose is usually $160, according to public health officials.

Santa Clara University President Michael Engh said in a statement, “We are extremely grateful for the leadership and professional expertise of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. They have been invaluable partners in managing the situation on campus.”

Engh said, “Our students are our number one priority and the county has been right there with us helping to ensure the health and well-being of our student body.”

Although many Santa Clara students had to wait a long time to receive their vaccination, public health officials said the scale and speed with which the meningococcal vaccination clinics were set up is unprecedented.

Dr. Rana Hajjeh, the director of bacterial diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “We are very impressed with how quickly the vaccine was offered to students. This vaccine is a new tool that can help protect against serogroup B meningococcal disease.”

Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s Health officer, said the clinics wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of staff members and volunteers who worked many hours of overtime, including during evenings and weekends.

Cody said, “The short amount of time -less than 48 hours between the confirmation of the outbreak and the start of mass vaccination clinics set a national record for this disease.”

She said, “I am very proud and grateful to think of the talent, dedication and sheer grit required to make these clinics happen.”