Serogroup B Meningococcal Disease Outbreaks on U.S. College Campuses

From 2013 to 2016, five college campuses experienced outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease:

  • Santa Clara University: Three cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease occurred at Santa Clara University from January to February 2016.
  • University of Oregon: Seven cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease occurred at the University of Oregon from January to June 2015.
    • One student died.
  • Providence College: Two cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease occurred within a week at Providence College in early February 2015.
    • All of the students survived, and there have been no further cases, potentially due to rapid action taken by the Providence College community to get students vaccinated quickly.
  • Princeton University: Nine cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease occurred at or were associated with an outbreak at Princeton University from March 2013 through March 2014.
    • One Drexel University student who was in contact with Princeton students died. Some students are suffering neurological effects such as memory loss, difficulty retaining information and difficulty concentrating.
  • University of California, Santa Barbara: Four cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease occurred in one month at the University of California, Santa Barbara in late 2013. These cases were connected to one that occurred on campus seven months earlier.
    • All of the students survived. One, a male lacrosse player, had both feet amputated.
  • All universities held emergency clinics to administer serogroup B meningococcal disease vaccine to all undergraduate students, and certain graduate students and faculty to help stop the outbreaks.
    • The 2015 outbreaks occurred just months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two vaccines to protect against serogroup B.
      • Providence College and the University of Oregon coordinated mass vaccination efforts on campus and planned for follow-up clinics to administer subsequent doses of the vaccines.
    •  Outbreaks at Princeton University and University of California, Santa Barbara occurred before serogroup B vaccines were licensed for use in the U.S.
      • During that time, the FDA and CDC worked closely together, along with the universities and local public health officials, to make the vaccine available under a special treatment Investigational New Drug (IND) in response to these outbreaks.
  • There were at least three more serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreaks on college campuses between 2008 and 2011 (Source: CDC).
  • Symptoms of serogroup B meningococcal disease are the same as for other serogroups; they include flu-like symptoms of fever, achiness and headache. Particularly worrisome symptoms and signs of the infection include rash, pain when looking at bright lights and stiff neck.
  • While vaccines offer the best chance of protection against the infection, knowledge of symptoms can help ensure prompt medical treatment is sought if needed.