Rare strain of Meningitis forces possible use of European alternatives

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ATLANTA - A campus meningitis outbreak has officials considering an experimental vaccine.

Princeton's idyllic Ivy League campus is the site of a serious health outbreak.

Since March, seven undergraduates have been diagnosed with a rare form of meningitis, meningococcal type b.

"Yeah. Just getting calls from your parents and relatives asking about what's going on. It's a little bit scary," said student Maddy Russell.

People infected may feel like they have flu -- fever, headache and body pains. But the unusual symptom is a stiff neck. The telltale sign of the danger of meningitis.

Without rapid treatment, 10 percent may die and many who survive are damaged.

Regular meningitis vaccines don't cover this strain. The situation is so serious, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta obtained approval from the FDA to import a vaccine approved only in Europe and Australia.

Channel 2's Linda Stouffer called the CDC to ask if they plan to use the vaccine that's not even approved in the United States. The center said that health and university officials are still deciding what to do. But even if they go ahead with the new drug, students may still have a choice

"Not knowing the effects of the vaccine or anything like that since it's not approved in the U.S., I don't think I would take it," said student Samantha Wierzbicki.

The CDC said this strain of meningitis B is rare, but more common in winter. And every day one or two people get it.



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