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Bexsero is a vaccine approved for use in Europe and Australia that targets the specific strain of the neisseria meningitis. It is currently being considered by Princeton trustees as an option for its students, since eight have already been hospitalized with meningitis.

Credit: Amanda Suarez

A recent meningitis outbreak at Princeton University that brought eight students to the hospital has become so serious that the university’s trustees are considering using a vaccine called Bexsero that has not yet been approved in the United States.

Bexsero is a vaccine approved for use in Europe and Australia that targets the specific strain of the neisseria meningitidis bacteria, which causes the disease, according to CBS News. All students are required to receive a meningococcal vaccine. However, this does not protect against all strains of the bacteria. The strain at Princeton is one such.

The most recent outbreak started when a female Princeton student returned from spring break with the symptoms of meningitis. This disease causes swelling of the meninges, an outer covering that lines the brain and spinal cord. If untreated, this disease can be fatal within a few days. Since March, there have been seven total reported cases at Princeton.

Students are continuously updated of new cases through email alerts.

“The university is doing a pretty good job with keeping us up to date with the outbreak,” Princeton senior Lauren Song said in an email. “They email us reminders to watch out for symptoms and let us know when another case happens.”

Penn had an outbreak of meningitis in February 2009 when three students were hospitalized for the infection. In 2007, then-College sophomore Anne Ryan died from meningitis.

Related: After third student with meningitis-like infection, 2,000 get preventative treatment

Related: Sophomore dies from meningitis

When Penn last faced an outbreak, the University canceled all university events for the weekend to limit the spread of the disease. Student Health Service administered medication to about 2,000 students to prevent it from spreading.

The symptoms of meningococcal meningitis include fever, severe headache and sensitivity to bright light. The disease can be spread through contact such as coughing or kissing a person who is infected.

Princeton is suggesting that students wash hands, cover coughs and not share drinking glasses or eating utensils. The University has not canceled any events this past weekend, according to the Daily Princetonian.

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A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the number of reported cases of meningitis at Princeton. There are currently seven.

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