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'Very fatal very quickly': Mom implores OSU students to get meningococcal type B vaccine

A local mom who once nearly lost her son to meningococcal disease implored Oregon State University students Friday to get vaccinated, as authorities continued to respond to an outbreak at the school.

"You don't have the option to second guess what it is," said Brandi Franklin, of Vancouver. "It can become very fatal very quickly."

Health authorities are asking all OSU students age 25 and under to take the type B meningococcal vaccine, which is not regularly administered to college students.

Authorities said the vaccine is currently offered at Student Health Services at OSU and there are plans to open a walk-in vaccination clinic on campus next Wednesday and Thursday.

In 2005, Franklin's son, Cavan, who was 10 months old at the time, contracted meningococcal disease.

"It's extremely scary something like this," Franklin said. "It's a very quick disease. He was healthy and fine when we went to bed that night and within six hours he was what the doctors considered in fatal condition. By the time we got to the emergency room the doctor put him under and gave him some medication. ... He spent about two-and-a-half months in the hospital. We had to undergo skin grafts and he had several surgeries to replace the skin the bacteria infection ate."

Franklin said Cavan, who's now 12 years old, is doing much better.

"He's starting to learn how to walk again with the walker," Franklin said. "He still uses a wheelchair."

"This disease most frequently strikes young people," said Charlie Fautin, deputy director of the Benton County Health Department, which is keeping a close watch on the situation at OSU.

"Back in November of 2016 we had two undergraduate students from OSU who were diagnosed within about four days of each other with meningococcal disease," Fautin told KATU. "At the end of last week a third case was diagnosed and admitted to the Corvallis hospital. ... Three cases -- even over this long a period of time -- meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's criteria for an outbreak."

Fautin said all three students who became sick are now all right and more than 40 people who had close contact with the latest victim were given antibiotics and are OK as well.

He said symptoms of the disease can start out like the flu. They include high fever, headache, stiff neck, exhaustion, nausea, rash, vomiting and diarrhea.

Fautin said if you experience any of those symptoms or think you have meningococcal disease you should seek medical treatment immediately.

He said it spreads through saliva and mucus and recommends not sharing anything that touches someone's nose or mouth.

More information about the disease can be found here.

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