An outbreak of meningitis B declared at Shirreff Hall on Dalhousie University’s main campus remains ongoing, as one student is recovering in hospital and one has died of the infection.
“Even though there was no identified social or relationship risks between these two, we did decide that a slightly wider initiative was warranted,” says Regional Medical Officer of Health Dr. Cristin Muecke. “In this case, it was offering meningitis B vaccine to the staff and students of this residence hall.”
Student Charlie Cote saw the measure as a good precaution, as he was able to get both the flu shot and meningitis vaccine in one trip.
“Even though you can only get the disease through, like, mouth-to-mouth contact or through saliva, I still wanted to get it just in case, cause you never know,” Cote says. “We also all eat at the same dining hall, so there’s that added risk there as well.”
According to Muecke, a confirmed case of meningitis receives one of Public Health’s priority disease responses — yet its vaccine is not part of the province’s routine publicly-funded program.
“NACI actually does not currently recommend a meningitis B vaccine as part of population-level public health vaccine schedules,” Muecke says. “Unless it’s in response to a particular event. Which is why we set up a vaccine clinic over the past weekend.”
Muecke says that the larger Dalhousie and Halifax community remains at average risk of contracting meningitis B, and that preliminary analysis of health data shows that there is no unusual increase in meningitis cases this year.
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