Wisconsin law 36.25(46) requires that all college and university students living in a residence hall receive information on meningococcal disease (meningitis) and hepatitis B. As a student living in a residence hall in Wisconsin, you are also required to report your vaccination status for meningococcal and hepatitis B, and to provide the date of vaccination, if any.
What you must to do comply
If you are a living in a residence hall, sign into the housing portal and indicate whether or not you've received the vaccinations for meningococcal disease and hepatitis B. Please also take the time to review the information contained on this page and in the linked documents and web pages. Knowledge is your best defense to avoid contracting meningitis and hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B is a liver infection that can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and is transmitted by blood, semen, or other body fluid from an infected person. Hepatitis B is spread by sexual contact; by sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment; from mother to baby at birth; or by direct contact with the blood or sores of an infected person.
The best way to prevent hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated.
Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a rare but potentially life-threatening disease caused by five types of bacteria. While meningitis is not as contagious as the common cold or the flu, it is spread through kissing, close coughing, and other exchanges of nose or throat secretions. People living in close quarters, such as in the residence halls, are more likely to spread the disease. In fact, recent data show that the risk for meningococcal disease in college students is slightly higher than the risk in other teens and young adults who are not attending college.
The CDC recommends meningococcal conjugate vaccines for first-year college students living in residence halls. If you received this vaccine before your 16th birthday, you will need a booster dose for maximum protection before going to college.
What you need to know
Meningitis can cause an individual to become very ill, very quickly. The most common symptoms include:
- High fever (over 101oF)
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, rashes, and sensitivity to light.
If you or someone you know has these symptoms, contact a healthcare provider or get that person to an emergency room immediately.
Common questions about Meningitis
What is meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease is a potentially life-threatening bacterial infection caused by Neisseria meningitidis, a common bacterium. Sometimes these bacteria invade the body to infect the lining of the brain (causing meningitis) or the bloodstream (meningococcemia).
This invasive disease is sometimes fatal unless recognized and treated promptly. Brain damage, hearing loss, loss of limbs, or kidney failure can also occur. Meningococcal disease is relatively rare, occurring at a rate of less than 1 in 100,000 people in the United States.
Who is at risk for meningococcal disease?
Everyone is potentially at risk, but college freshmen living in dormitories have an increased risk of developing meningococcal disease compared with other college students. For this reason, it is important for students to become familiar with meningococcal disease and get vaccinated against it before they come to college.
How do people get infected with meningococcal bacteria?
Meningococcal bacteria are spread from person-to-person by direct contact with an infected person’s oral or nasal secretions.
While the bacteria may be spread through close and direct contact with an infected person’s saliva, such as by sharing cups or eating utensils, this disease is not spread through the air, in food or water, or by casual contact in bathrooms, classrooms, restaurants, bars, or other social settings.
Persons who have had recent intimate or direct exposure to someone with meningococcal disease may be at increased risk for contracting or spreading meningococcal disease and should receive preventative medication. Exposure is defined as kissing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, or sharing cigarettes with a person who has recently developed meningococcal disease.
What are the symptoms of meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease can cause an individual to become very ill, very quickly. Symptoms may include:
- High fever (>101°F)
- Severe headache
- Neck stiffness
- Sensitivity to light
- Vomiting or rashes may also occur
Anyone with these symptoms should contact a healthcare provider or go to an emergency room immediately. If not treated promptly, the disease can progress rapidly and can lead to shock and death within a few hours.
What is the treatment for meningococcal disease exposure?
People who have been exposed (as defined above) to oral or nasal secretions of a person with meningococcal disease may need to take antibiotics to prevent spread of the infection. The purpose of the antibiotics is to eliminate the meningococcal bacteria from the throat (carrier state). People who have not had direct exposure to oral or nasal secretions do not need to be treated.
If you believe you have had direct and recent meningococcal disease exposure, you should call Student Health Service at (715) 836-4311.
How can meningococcal disease be prevented?
Vaccines are available that offer protection against some, but not all, strains of the bacteria. Immunization will reduce the overall risk of developing invasive meningococcal disease by about 65%.
Who should get vaccinated?
Meningococcal vaccine is recommended for all adolescents 11 through 18 years of age. It is also recommended for first-year college students living in a residence hall, if they have not been previously immunized. Other college students age 21 and under who want to reduce their risk of meningococcal disease may also get the vaccine.
New recommendations about booster doses were issued in 2010. If you received meningococcal vaccine before age 16, you should get a booster dose before you start college. Student Health Service recommends that all current students age 21 and under get a booster dose of meningococcal vaccine if their first dose was given before age 16. If vaccine was given at age 16 or later, no booster is required.
In addition, meningococcal vaccine is recommended for persons traveling to countries where meningococcal disease is more common. Persons who have had their spleen removed or who have complement deficiency (an immune disorder) should get booster doses of the vaccine every five years.
What are the benefits and limitations of the vaccine?
The current recommended meningococcal vaccine is about 90% effective in preventing meningococcal disease caused by four common strains of the bacteria (serogroups A, C, Y, and W). A separate vaccine is also available that prevents disease caused by a fifth strain (serogroup B). These vaccines do not provide any protection against other types of bacterial or viral meningitis. Immunized students must be aware that they can still develop meningococcal disease, as the vaccine provides only short-term protection.