SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County Health officials confirm a third student at University of California Santa Barbara has contracted bacterial meningitis. But they're downplaying the risk of a major outbreak.
"This does meet the definition of an outbreak," said Charity Thoman, the county's Deputy Health Officer. "Two of these are confirmed serogroup (type) B. One of the cases is still pending as to the serogroup."
It turns out, the vaccine students get does not protect against this particular serogroup.
During Thursday's news conference we also learned that less than five other suspected cases are undergoing blood testing and more than 300 people in close contact with the three infected students were treated with antibiotics.
Two of the infected students live on campus, but health officials wouldn't reveal where the third student lives.
George Foulsham, public information officer with UCSB, told NewsChannel 3 that one of the infected students is already back in class, while a second is almost "fully recovered."
Still, there's widespread concern, both on and off campus. "Students are getting ready to go home for Thanksgiving and we have had calls from parents concerned they might be bringing disease home," said Mary Ferris, Executive Director of Student Health. "We don't think that's a risk at all."
Symptoms can include a high fever, severe headache, body aches, rash and vomiting. Thoman said the rash is a telltale sign of the more dangerous blood form of meningitis, rather than the brain form.
The only way to contract meningitis is through close contact with someone infected, such as kissing, sharing drinking cups or a cigarette.