Princeton’s meningococcal outbreak: What you need to know

Meningitis bacteria, SEM
Neisseria meningitidis bacteria.
The following information has been adapted from the American College Health Association (ACHA)We also encourage you to follow ongoing updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on their Meningococcal Disease page.

The following information on serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreaks is provided by ACHA’s Vaccine-Preventable Disease Advisory Committee after consultation with the CDC.

The ongoing serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak at Princeton University brings national attention to an issue of longstanding importance to the college health community. The dramatic decline in cases of meningococcal disease since the late 1990s coincides with the widespread use of the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine in adolescents and students entering college.

Outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease are rare. Since the first case last spring, Princeton officials have collaborated diligently with local and state public health officials and CDC. After the third case (which defines an outbreak), CDC initiated discussions with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for permission to acquire Bexsero, the serogroup B meningococcal vaccine that is licensed in Europe and Australia, to be made available for this specific outbreak. Cases of meningococcal disease are reportable in every state, and no spread beyond the Princeton campus has occurred or is expected.

Adolescents and young adults can reduce their risk by being vaccinated against meningococcal disease. Vaccination protects against four of the five common strains of the disease that cause the majority of cases in this age group. Vaccination is the best method of prevention; however, maintaining a healthy lifestyle like getting plenty of rest and not coming into close contact with people who are sick can also help.

For more information, visit the CDC Preteen and Teen Vaccines page