Nov 022010
 
Authors: Rachel Childs

To keep its students and faculty safe, CSU will administer free meningococcal vaccinations Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Student Recreation Center.

The university has partnered with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment and the Health District of Northern Larimer County to administer the vaccination as a proactive step in slowing down the transfer of the bacteria, which can lead to fatal diseases such as sepsis and meningitis, said CSU spokesman Brad Bohlander.

The vaccinations are in response to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has labeled as an outbreak of meningococcal bacteria in Larimer County.

“The reason CSU (will be the host of a clinic) is because the age of college students is usually the age where most of these cases happen,” said Jane Viste, public health educator and spokeswoman for the Larimer County Department of Public Health and Environment.

Students and faculty under the age of 29 are recommended to receive the vaccine, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Live-in family and roommates –– between the ages of 2 and 29 –– of CSU students and faculty are encouraged to attend the clinic.

This age group is most susceptible due to lifestyle and high volumes of people living in close quarters, according to the Larimer County Department of Public Health and Environment.

Students are more likely to share drinks, dining utensils, cigarettes and other items that transmit saliva from one person to another, which can spread meningococcal illnesses.

Students can register for a time slot online at the CSU safety website beginning today at 8 a.m. for the clinic. On-site registration is also available, but may lead to a longer wait time.

Anyone unable to attend can go to Hartshorn Health Services, where the vaccine is also free for the time being.

The goal is to vaccinate 6,000 people, but more demand could lead to another future vaccination, according to Anne Hudgens, interim-director of the CSU Health Network.

The CDC advisory committee said the meningococcal vaccine loses its potency after three years, and will stop preventing disease after five. People are encouraged to receive a booster shot at this time to extend protection from disease, Hudgens said.

Seven cases of meningococcal disease have been linked to the outbreak in the past five months, five of which ended in the deaths of three Fort Collins hockey players and Metro State student in Denver with CSU ties.

Christina Adame, a CSU student who died in October, contracted waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome, which shut down her adrenal glands and made her susceptible to blood poisoning.

The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and help regulate the body’s endocrine system.

It was initially reported that Adame died of meningococcal sepsis, but the confusion centered on the effects of the bacteria neisseria meningitidis that has two affects: to shut down the adrenal glands and keeps them from fighting bacteria or viruses or cause meningitis.

There have been no new outbreaks of meningococcal disease in Larimer County, but the strain that has affected the area is now considered “hyper virulent,” said Dr. Adrienne Lebailly, the Larimer County Health Department director.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will provide the CO HELP hotline at 1-877-462-2911 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Friday to answer questions related to meningococcal disease and to check immunization records, so people know if they should receive the vaccine.

“The more people you can vaccinate, the more that interrupt the bacteria from jumping form person to person,” Viste said.

_Crime Beat Reporter Rachel Childs can be reached at news@collegian.com. _

 Posted by at 7:00 pm

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