The close, cramped nature of dorm living is partially to blame for recent outbreaks of bacterial meningitis at Princeton University and UC Santa Barbara experts say.

According to Dr. Eric McDonald, Deputy Public Health Officer for the County of San Diego, when people from many different parts of the country live together, as they do in the military or on college campuses or at camps, that puts them at risk of bacteria from other parts of the country they haven’t seen before.

Adding to the risk for college students, McDonald said infants, teens and young adults are most at-risk for complications from meningitis, in particular the Type B meningitis which hit both Princeton and UCSB.

“Someone who’s young and healthy one day can within 24 hours be dead from this illness,” he said. NBC San Diego Report

Late last month, the CDC www.cdc.org issued a meningitis health advisory in response to reports of eight cases at Princeton, as well as four additional cases at UCSB.

While both involve the Type B meningitis, a form of the disease that isn’t covered by the vaccine approved for use in the U.S, the outbreaks are being caused by two different strains. Outbreaks Prompt CDC Call for Vigilance

Whatever the strain, bacterial meningitis is severe and can cause serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss or learning disabilities. CDC Meningitis Report

As a precaution, roughly 700 students at UCSB will be given a powerful antibiotic to guard against meningitis. CNN Report

San Diegan Aaron Loy, 18, was one of the four UCSB student infected.

Doctors amputated both of his feet to stop the spread of the disease.

While the other students have returned to class, the freshman lacrosse player – a former student at La Costa Canyon High School — remains at a San Diego hospital. His infection is more serious, and has been marked by bouts of kidney failure, blood poisoning, tissue wounds, and the amputation.

In the meantime, students at the campus have been urged to avoid social gatherings, and sororities and fraternities advised against holding parties and other events — to avoid transmission of the disease LA Times Story

While taking standard precautions such as hand washing, students should also be alert to symptoms of bacterial meningitis, including include fever, headache and stiff neck, which are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, an increase in sensitivity to light, and an altered mental status. On average, symptoms of bacterial meningitis will appear three to seven days after contraction.

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