Urgent Notification: Meningitis Smith College

Email sent to entire campus on Monday, February 26, 2018

This email is to inform the Amherst College community of the confirmation of a case of bacterial meningitis in a Smith College student yesterday. It is not yet known which strain of Meningitis is affecting this student or whether or not the strain is related to the two cases of Meningitis B diagnosed in UMass students in October and November of last year. At this time there are no known cases at Amherst College and investigations to date have not found that this Smith College student had any close contact with any Amherst College students. 

 Meningitis is not highly contagious like the cold or flu and is only spread by close contact. However, we encourage you to take health-smart precautions. Don’t swap saliva. Avoid sharing food, drinks and personal items that contact saliva, including drinks from punch bowls. Wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth—germs spread easily this way. 

Given that we don’t yet know the strain of bacterial meningitis affecting the Smith College student, we strongly encourage students to receive vaccination against Meningitis B because the vaccine known as MCV4 or MenACWY or MPSV4 (brands Menactra, Menveo, or Menomune) required for college entry does not protect against Meningitis B. If you received that type of vaccine, we still recommend that you receive Meningitis Type B vaccine (Trumenba or Bexsero) because it is the only vaccine available that will protect you against this particular kind of meningitis. It is approved for individuals 10-25 years of age.  

The Amherst College health center is administering the Bexsero® vaccine to students. This is a two-dose series administered at least one month apart. We are offering vaccines by appointment and will be updating our website with vaccine clinic dates and times.

Please call the health center at 413-542-2267 to schedule your appointment.

Vaccines are also available at most local pharmacies near campus. You can use VaccineFinder.org to locate local pharmacy options.

Please note that the Amherst College health insurance covers the cost of the vaccine. Students with private insurance will be billed and should submit a claim form to their insurance company to request reimbursement. No Amherst College student will be denied vaccine due to inability to pay and students will not incur any costs associated with co-pays, deductibles, or insurance denials.

Additional information on bacterial meningitis may be found at: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/cdc/factsheets/m-o/meningococcal-college-students.pdf.

We will continue to post updates on our website as more information becomes available.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Keefe Health Center at 413-542-2267.


Emily Jones, M.D.