Multiple cases of meningitis have been reported at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Katie Lawson, a university spokeswoman, said that she did not know the number of cases, but knew that more than one student was sick. She did not know when the illness was first reported on campus.
In a statement, the university’s health director, David McBride, said, “We have reached out to the organizations that are primarily affected with information about the condition and what to do in the event that they are feeling unwell.”
Lawson did not immediately provide information about which organizations were referred to in McBride’s statement. She said the university was focused on outreach to those groups and was not offering preventative medications — including vaccines or antibiotics — at this time.
According to the university’s Web site, all students are required by state law to be vaccinated against meningitis before enrolling or to sign a waiver indicating that they have chosen not to receive the vaccine.
Outbreaks of meningitis sickened multiple students at Princeton University and the University of California at Santa Barbara last year, prompting the schools to give thousands of students a vaccine not yet approved for general use in the United States.
In September, a Georgetown University sophomore died of the illness, which affects the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The university referred to the death of sophomore Andrea Jaime as an isolated case but offered preventative antibiotics to students who may have come in contact with Jaime.
The illness is spread through exchange of respiratory and throat secretions, meaning kissing, sharing drinks, and similar close contact.
McBride’s statement said that the confirmed and suspected cases at Maryland were viral meningitis, not the bacterial version of the illness. The cases at the other three universities were bacterial.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the viral version, though serious, is rarely fatal.