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Web Exclusive: Rare meningitis outbreak at Princeton University

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(CNN) - Seven people at Princeton University have gotten sick so far in a rare meningitis outbreak. Princeton's board is now considering whether to offer students an emergency vaccine used overseas. 
 
Princeton University tries to stem the spread of meningitis B, a potentially deadly disease.

"We just try to be careful but we're not freaking out," says Angelica Chen, Princeton student.

Doctors have linked seven cases of the bacterial meningitis to the Ivy League campus. Now, board members are considering whether to offer students a vaccine that's only used overseas.

"If I were a parent I would be very interested in getting the information and generally accepting and if I were around that table with the board of trustees I would be gently encouraging them to do this," says Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Prev. Medicine Vanderbilt University.

There's no approved meningitis B vaccine in the states. But given the outbreak of the rare strain on an American campus, the CDC has FDA approval to import Bexsero. It's the only vaccine for meningitis B and it's approved for use in Europe and Australia.

Judy Landry, a Princeton parent says, "I think I would tell him to take it."

Gina Sun, a student says, "I'm not sure because I'm not sure of the drawbacks."

Princeton's first case of meningitis B was diagnosed back in March when a student returned from Spring Break. The seventh case was diagnosed last week. The possibility of a vaccine is what some students have been hoping for.

"It will take off a lot of the stress that we're going through right now," says Lynne Mehne, a Princeton student.

If board members and university administrators agree to offer the vaccine it would be available to some 8 thousand students on a voluntary basis.
"I'd trust the vaccine as long as it's approved in Europe and Australia it gives me confidence that it works. I probably wouldn't get at the moment. Like I said, I'm not too worried about the whole meningitis outbreak yet. So, if Princeton starts vaccinating students I don't know if I would be first in line for it," says Tyler Tamasi, Princeton student.

 

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