University at Albany

Meningitis Information


Meningitis Legislation and Documentation Requirements

The University at Albany would like to inform all parents and students about meningococcal disease, a potentially fatal bacterial infection commonly referred to as meningitis, and New York State Public Health Law (NYS PHL) §2167.On July 22, 2003, Governor Pataki signed NYS PHL §2167 requiring institutions, including colleges and universities, to distribute information about meningococcal disease and vaccination to all students meeting the enrollment criteria, whether they live on or off campus. This law became effective August 15, 2003.

The way that a UAlbany student can satisfy the Meningitis requirement is to log in to MyUAlbany and select the Meningitis link under the Required Agreements section.


What is Meningococcal Meningitis?

Meningococcal Meningitis is a rare but very serious infection of the brain & spinal cord covering. When it strikes, its initial flu-like symptoms make early diagnosis difficult. If not treated timely, infection can be fatal.
About 1,400 to 3,000 U.S. citizens get this disease yearly. Of these, 10-15% will die (even among those that receive antibiotics). Of those that survive, another 10% will either, lose a limb, become deaf, develop mental retardation or suffer from stroke or seizures.
Though it usually occurs as a single event (about 90% of the time) it can be spread through the air in droplets of respiratory secretions of an infected person. It can also be spread through direct contact such as kissing and sharing of cigarettes or drink glasses.

What are the symptoms?

Early symptoms include nausea vomiting & lethargy (very similar to other less serious infections). With time symptoms such as stiff neck, fever & rash will develop, often within 12 hours of onset of symptoms.
How soon do symptoms appear after exposure?
Symptoms may appear two to ten days after exposure, though usually within five days. Close contacts may be candidates for antibiotics to prevent development of disease (ultimately this will be determined by public health officials)

Who is at risk?

Though anyone can get this disease, it is more common in children under one year of age, international travelers, those with chronic diseases and college freshman (particularly those that live in dorms).
Cases of meningococcal meningitis among teens and young adults 15 to 24 years of age (the age of most college students) have more than doubled since 1991. Each year, between 100 and 125 meningitis cases occur on college campuses and as many as 15 students will die from the disease.

Vaccine Information:

The Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (MCV4-trade name Menactra) covers meningococcal groups , C Y and W135. It does not cover group b (which is primarily seen in children under 1 year of age).

Who should NOT get this vaccine?

Anyone who experienced a serious allergic reaction to this vaccine in the past should not receive it.
Those with a moderate to severe illness should not get the vaccine until they are better. Those with a mild illness can receive the vaccine. Your health care provider can help you with this decision if necessary.
The vaccine is safe for pregnant women.

What risks are there to the vaccine?

All medicines (including this vaccine) have the potential to cause allergic reactions.
The risk of this vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.
The vaccine is much safer than getting the disease.
The vaccine may result in mild symptoms, such as pain & redness, at the vaccine sight (similar to other vaccines). Occasional a fever may develop. These symptoms resolve within a day or two.

Signs of a serious reaction to the vaccine:

Though very rare, serious events may occur. Any unusual behavior, trouble breathing, throat swelling, hives, or high fever (over 102 degrees F) should prompt immediate medical attention.
If they do occur, serious events develop within a few minutes to a few hours of the vaccine’s administration.


The duration of protection from Menactra, the meningococcal vaccine, is approximately 8-10 years.

For more information:

You can also find information about the disease at the New York State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American College Health Association (ACHA).
Sources: New York State Department of Health Website (Revised March 2003) and the American College Health Association Website