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About Meningitis B

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that can cause inflammation of the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord and can infect the bloodstream. Although it is rare, it is spread from person to person through the exchange of saliva (e.g. coughing, kissing or sharing drinks or eating utensils). It can lead to serious illness, loss of limbs and even death.

What is Meningitis B? There are at least 12 types or “serogroups” of meningococcal diseases, one of which is serogroup B. In the U.S., the B strain accounts for 50 percent of all cases in persons 17 to 23 years of age.

There are two vaccinations available to protect against meningococcal disease – the MenACWY vaccine AND the MenB vaccine, which just became safely available in the U.S. in 2014. Both are required to be fully immunized against the most common types of the disease. Few people have received both vaccines.

The following schools according the CDC and university websites have listed a recent or ongoing meningitis B outbreak:

  • Amherst College
  • Hampshire College
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • Oregon State University
  • Smith College
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst

The following schools have confirmed incidents or outbreaks of meningitis B since 2011:

  • Drexel University*
  • Georgetown University*
  • Indiana University
  • Kalamazoo College*
  • Palomar Community College
  • Princeton University
  • Providence College
  • Purdue University
  • San Diego State University*
  • Santa Clara University
  • Rutgers University
  • University of California Davis
  • University of California Santa Barbara
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Oregon*
  • University of Wisconsin*

Universities with (*) have listed a confirmed death as a result of meningitis B.

Universities listed in bold now have a requirement in place for the meningitis B vaccination.

The National Meningitis Association has a detailed map of outbreaks and incidents from 2013-2017 here.  

The Beware of B campaign is supported by a grant from Pfizer