UCSB is now suspending fraternity parties and events at the school in the wake of the discovery of a fourth case of meningococcal disease at the college.
All four people were infected last month, and in one case, a college lacrosse player had to have both feet amputated after the disease slowed blood flow to his limbs.
The first case of the disease occurred November 11, and the disease does not seem to have been arrested, despite the university bolstering its cleaning processes in residence halls, the recreation center and sports facilities.
University official estimate that roughly 500 people may have been exposed to the disease. Meningococcal disease is bacterial in nature, and causes meningitis and bloodstream infections. College students and others living in close quarters are at greater risk of contracting and spreading the disease. Smokers are at increased risk of meningococcal infection, officials said.
Health officials report that students should watch for symptoms of high fever, severe headaches, rash, and sensitivity to light
Public health officials and UCSB are now taking steps to arrest the progression of the disease.
This week they plan to provide antibiotics to additional individuals whom they believe may have already been exposed to the bacteria based on analysis of social networks of the victims. These students will be provided those drugs no later than Tuesday.
The university will also inform all students, staff and faculty at UCSB about the importance of seeking medical care if they are ill ,especially if they have symptoms, as timely treatment is very important to recovery. Even students who have been given preventive antibiotics can become ill depending on the timing of exposure; preventive antibiotics only offer protection for about one day, so students can become ill if exposed to the bacteria again in the future.