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Student with bacterial meningitis hospitalized abroad in fifth case linked to University since March

A male University student was hospitalized after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis on June 30 during an academic program abroad, the University announced in an email sent to undergraduate students Tuesday afternoon. Fourteen other students who were on the trip received prophylactic treatment, according to University spokesperson Martin Mbugua.

The student was treated for bacterial meningitis and is in stable condition, Mbugua said. He declined to provide additional details about the student or the nature of the trip, citing privacy concerns.

At this time, there is no link between the most recently reported case of bacterial meningitis and the four other cases associated with the University in recent months, according to New Jersey State Department of Health Communications Manager Daniel Emmer. He added that NJDOH is currently working with other public health agencies to investigate the case, though he did not specify which agencies.

To the University’s knowledge, the male student was not in contact with any of the students who contracted meningitis in the past few months, Mbugua said.

This is the fifth reported case of bacterial meningitis linked to the University since March. The first and second cases, reported on March 25 and April 12, involved a female student and a male visitor to campus, respectively. The third and fourth cases, reported May 7 and May 20, both involved male students.

Each of the four previous cases were caused by a type of bacterial meningitis known as meningococcal bacteria type B, which has no vaccine but is treated with antibiotics, according to the University email announcement.

State law requires University students to be vaccinated against bacterial meningitis before enrolling at Princeton, but Mbugua said in May that four current students have not received the vaccine, citing a religious exemption.

Bacterial meningitis is contagious and can be spread through close contact such as coughing, sneezing, and sharing utensils. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and altered mental status, according to Centers for Disease Control’s website.