More meningitis cases expected at UMass following ‘outbreak’ declaration, says UHS director, Dr. George Corey

New cases of meningococcal illnesses are expected on the UMass campus now that an ‘outbreak’ has been declared by both the university and the CDC. This comes after a student fell ill with meningococcemia in October and meningitis in November. Both students are in stable condition, but both kinds of bacterial infection can be fatal if untreated.

Dr. George Corey says all undergraduate students should be vaccinated, as well as anyone who lives in undergraduate housing. Becky Wandel and Liz Flood report.


Update from UHS regarding meningitis ‘outbreak’

Below is the full text of a press release sent to members of the UMass community by email on Tuesday morning. Be sure to tune in to WMUA News tonight at 5:30 for an update on the meningococcal outbreak.

Dear Campus Community,

Following additional, extensive testing of the two student cases of meningococcal disease on campus, University Health Services (UHS), in concert with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has determined that because the two cases originated from a single strain of genetically identical organisms, this meningococcal disease should be considered an outbreak. The CDC conducted the testing.                      

As a result, University Health Services is recommending that students at the highest risk receive serogroup B vaccinations at a series of four walk-in clinics during the next two weeks. Those at the highest risk include: all undergraduates, graduate students living in undergraduate housing, and all students with conditions such as asplenia, a complement deficiency, sickle cell anemia or those taking the medication Solaris. This includes both on-campus and off-campus students.

CDC protocols do not consider faculty and staff to be within this risk group, except for those with the conditions listed above. Faculty and staff who are concerned about exposure to meningitis or are interested in being vaccinated are encouraged to contact their primary care provider.

Updates, frequently asked questions and details about insurance will be posted at

These further measures to protect the campus community reinforce decisions made by the university to begin vaccinating over the past two weeks. Meningococcal B vaccine has been administered by appointment to more than 1,400 students so far, but additional action to reduce risk is best accomplished through large walk-in clinics. We will need your utmost cooperation and attendance to protect you from this preventable, serious illness. Meanwhile, the campus will safely maintain regular operations. There are no plans to interrupt any classes, attendance or housing at UMass due to Meningococcus B.

The large-scale vaccination clinics will be held from noon to 6 p.m. in the Cape Cod Lounge of the Student Union on:

  • Thursday, November 30, first and second-year students preferred
  • Friday, December 1, first and second-year students preferred
  • Monday, December 4, third and fourth-year students preferred
  • Tuesday, December 5, third and fourth-year students preferred

To make the process as orderly as possible for everyone involved, we encourage you to follow the suggested day of participation, but we understand if your schedule makes that difficult. Graduate students should select any of the four days.

UHS also continues to advise the campus community 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. If you are sick, have fever, or other concerns, UHS is here to help you.

Vaccination Insurance

Because the current situation is an outbreak, your health insurance or prescription plan should cover this vaccination, and UHS will take steps to bill insurance for the service. Please remember to bring your insurance card with you to the clinic. In any case, undergraduate students who attend the clinics will be provided the vaccine, no matter the ability to pay. Students will not incur any costs associated with co-pays, deductibles or insurance denials. Here are some insurance tips that should ease the process for everyone:

  • Before attending the vaccination clinics, students or their family members are encouraged to contact their private insurance provider regarding coverage of the vaccine.
  • Please download and fill out this Referral Request form and bring it to the clinic, which will provide authorization to receive the vaccine through UHS.
  • When speaking with your insurance representative, it is important to mention that the UMass Amherst campus has designated “outbreak status” from federal and state public health officials.
  • Many insurance companies will require that your primary care provider obtain a pre-authorization number. Please try to contact your provider before coming to the clinic.
  • Consolidated Health Plan, the university-sponsored health insurance, will cover the cost of the vaccine at 100 percent with no preauthorization or referral required.

Thank you in advance for your full participation and cooperation.  We appreciate you taking the steps required to keep our campus a safe and healthy place.


George A. Corey, M.D.

Executive Director

University Health Services




Copyright 2017. University of Massachusetts Amherst


WMUA News: November 27 2017

WMUA brings you coverage of today’s top stories, including an update on the Presidential Village situation from Jesse Kolodkin, a recap of the sexual misconduct allegations plaguing Congress from Kyle Olsen and a breakdown of net neutrality from Michael Hanson. Also this broadcast, we hear what UMass students think of the royal engagement and go inside a top New Hampshire coffee shop.


SGA President Lily Wallace discusses the new student union building

WMUA’s Parker Louison sat down with UMass Amherst Student Government Vice President Lily Wallace to discuss the details of an upcoming proposal to renovate the UMass Student Union Building.

The student referendum mentioned in this interview will occur December 4th, 2017 through December 7th, 2017, through UMass Campus Pulse. Check back here for a link to vote when it becomes available.


Two UMass Students Have Meningococcal Illnesses

Originally Aired Nov. 14 2017

Update 5:15 p.m. Nov. 15 2017: UHS has confirmed that the second student, who contracted meningitis, was infected with the B-strain of the Meningococcus bacteria. Head to timestamp 3:42 to see why that matters.

Two UMass students have fallen ill from Meningococcal infections in the past month, according to releases from University Health Services. Last month, a student infected with the B-strain of the Meningococcus bacteria contracted meningococcemia, a blood infection that can kill in hours. The student is reported to be in stable condition.

It is not yet known what strain of bacteria infected the second student, who contracted meningitis, an infection of the brain, and is also reported to be in stable condition. UMass students are not required to be vaccinated against the B-strain of the Meningococcus bacteria, but vaccinations to protect against this strain are available at UHS. Dr. George Corey, director of University Health Services, and Anne Becker, R.N. spoke to WMUA News about the outbreak. WMUA News’ Jesse Fisher, Kenneth Borges, and Becky Wandel report.


November 8th, 2017

Hear an overview of the results from the 2017 elections, gain some insight on a high-profile media merger, and listen to a state representative give his take on the Massachusetts bump stock ban. WMUA reporters Ian Munnelly, Alicia Bochnak, and Jesse Kolodkin bring you these updates and more on tonight’s broadcast

Also, WMUA’s Michael Hanson sits down with and avid skateboarder and discusses the activity’s position as a sport and art form.


November 7th 2017

Maura Healey says OK to an Amherst city bylaw, an apartment in South Amherst burns down, and a new study suggests opioid painkillers may not be necessary for most ER patients.

WMUA News’ Liz Flood, Talon Urdzik, and Michael Hanson cover all that and more in tonight’s broadcast.

Plus we hear from WMUA News contributor Jenna Mola about what UMass students wish they’d known when they were younger.