Meningococcal Disease Outbreaks

Meningitis B vaccination poster during an outbreak at Princeton.There are two types of meningococcal vaccines that can help prevent meningococcal disease, including:

  • Menactra and Menveo – meningococcal conjugate vaccines that protect against serogroups A, C, W, Y
  • Bexsero and Trumenba – meningococcal conjugate vaccines that only  protect against serogroup B

And while children routinely get their first dose of either Menactra or Menveo when they are 11 to 12 years old and a booster at age 16 years, the MenB vaccines only have a “permissive” recommendation.

That means that there isn’t a formal recommendation that all kids get Bexsero or Trumenba. Instead, older teens and young adults between the ages of 16 and 23 years can get vaccinated if they want to protect themselves from most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal Disease Outbreaks

Although the CDC reports that the incidence of menB disease is low, there have been at least nine outbreaks of menB disease on college campuses since 2013, including:

  • University of California, Santa Barbara four cases – one student had both his feet amputated (2013)
  • Princeton University – nine cases  and one death – a student at Drexel University (2013-14)
  • Providence College – two cases (2015)
  • University of Oregon – seven cases and one death (2016)
  • Santa Clara University – three cases (2016)
  • Rutgers University- New Brunswick – two cases (2016)
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison – three cases (2016)
  • Oregon State University – five cases (2017)

The latest outbreak is at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Two students have been diagnosed with menB disease in November 2017 and the school is now recommending that students get vaccinated with the Meningococcal B vaccine, which is being offered in a series of large scale walk-in vaccination clinics on campus

What to Know About Meningococcal Disease Outbreaks

Meningococcal disease is not common, but the effects of this vaccine-preventable disease disease can be devastating, which is why experts work to quickly get outbreaks under control.

More on Meningococcal Disease Outbreaks

Updated on December 1, 2017

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