Turner, M.D., Can Provide Expert Opinion On CDC Recommendation About
26, 2000 -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) has published a recommendation that college
students, particularly freshmen who live in dormitories, receive
information about meningococcal disease and the potential benefits
of vaccination. The CDC also recommended that those students wishing
to reduce their risk of disease should have access to the vaccination.
The recommendation will be published in CDC's Morbidity and
Mortality Weekly Report on June 30.
rare but potentially fatal bacterial infection, meningococcal disease
can appear as either meningococcal meningitis, an inflammation of
the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, or meningococcemia,
the presence of bacteria in the blood stream. Meningococcal meningitis
can lead to permanent neurologic disabilities, such as hearing loss,
and meningoccemia can lead to kidney failure and amputations in
up to 15-20 percent of survivors. Despite treatment, approximately
10-13 percent of those infected die each year. The disease requires
early and aggressive treatment to prevent disabilities and death.
C. Turner, M.D., director of the University of Virginia's Department
of Student Health, has been leading a national effort to call
attention to the public health danger of meningococcal disease and
the vaccine that can protect against it. Turner, who is chair of
the American College Health Association's (ACHA) Task Force
on Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, can offer expert opinion on today's
recommendation, he notes, follows an October 1999 recommendation
by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
The committee reviewed new information that demonstrates that college
students, especially freshmen residing in dormitories, are at modestly
increased risk of developing meningococcal disease. The currently
available vaccine provides protection from four of the five most
common strains of the bacteria that together account for more than
65-75 percent of the meningococcal cases on college campuses.
recent years meningococcal disease has occurred with increasing
frequency on campuses. Approximately 125 cases and 5-15 deaths occur
annually among college students. Two episodes occurred on college
campuses in Virginia this spring.
1999 the American College Health Association endorsed the ACIP recommendation.
A joint CDC/ACHA study found that the rate of infection of meningococcal
disease is higher among students who live in dormitories or residence
halls. Living in close quarters likely promotes the spread of the
bacteria among students, Turner said.
have shown that features of college life, which include smoking,
socializing in bars, alcohol consumption, kissing, and upper respiratory
infections, may contribute to college students' increased risk
of contracting the disease," said Turner, who is director of
the University of Virginia's Department of Student Health.
recommendation is a significant step toward decreasing individual
risk for meningococcal disease and preventing the public health
crisis associated with the infection on a college campus,"
notes that nationwide about 470 colleges and universities will include
meningococcal vaccination recommendations on pre-entrance health
forms this fall. "Though a rare disease, widespread use of
the vaccination could prevent more than 1,000 cases and 100 deaths
among college students in the next decade," Turner said.
fall U.Va.'s student health department offered walk-in clinics
to provide the vaccine against meningococcal disease. More than
4,000 students received the vaccine.
help this year's entering students and their parents know about
the dangers of meningococcal disease and the vaccine, U.Va.'s
student health department is including the immunization recommendation
on students' pre-entrance health forms. Turner is also presenting
information about the disease and the vaccine during summer orientations
for newly admitted students, and information will be available during
the health resource fairs at orientation. In the fall the student
health department will hold another day-long walk-in vaccination
For more information on the national picture or steps being taken
to protect students at U.Va., contact Turner at (804) 924-2670 or
Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-7116