A deadly form of meningitis that quickly claimed the life of a San Diego State University freshman is the same strain that infected students at multiple colleges throughout the country.
Sara Stelzer, who was taken off life support over the weekend, contracted Type B meningococcal meningitis. While she had been vaccinated against meningitis, the vaccine did not cover the rare Type B bacteria.
Two other students nationwide died last year from the Type B bacteria. A student at Pennsylvania’s Drexel University died after coming into contact with Princeton students who had Type B meningococcal disease.
A student at University of California Santa Barbara also died from the B-strain of the disease during a campus outbreak.
Coincidentally, a Carlsbad native who attended UCSB, contracted the disease and had to have his feet amputated. He survived, however.
At both Princeton and UCSD, a MenB vaccine was used to treat students who were exposed.
The vaccine is used in Europe and Canada but has not been licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
However, in an outbreak of a life-threatening disease, the FDA will allow use of a drug or vaccine not approved in the U.S.
If another San Diego State student contracts the strain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could evaluate whether to use the European vaccine here.
So far, no other students have contracted the B-strain, university officials said. Nearly 1,000 students were evaluated and some were given antibiotics over the weekend after the campus issued a health alert.