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A concurrent outbreak and cluster of meningitis cases have led to at least 44 cases across the state of Florida. While cases in the outbreak have appeared primarily among members of the men who have sex with men community and the cluster of cases among college students at one university1, anyone can get meningitis. Here are five things you need to know and the actions you should consider taking.
Who is affected by the current cases of meningitis?
The current outbreak and cluster of meningitis cases has included two different serogroups of the disease — serogroup B and serogroup C, and is impacting the following groups, for whom CDC is recommending two different meningitis vaccination considerations based on risk group1.
Meningitis ACWY (MenACWY) vaccination is also routinely recommended for 11-12-year-olds with a booster at age 16.2
Should college students in other counties/states receive meningitis B vaccination?
There’s more than one ‘kind’ of meningitis
Meningococcal disease, also known as meningitis, is caused by bacteria carried in the nose or back of the throat that can spread through respiratory secretions, saliva and close contact. There are five vaccine-preventable serogroups — A, C, W, Y and B, and two different vaccinations needed to help protect against them, one for Meningitis ACWY and one for Meningitis B.2,6,8
Signs and symptoms
Early symptoms of meningitis may be similar to those of the flu but can progress rapidly. Symptoms can include fever, headache, and stiff neck as well as nausea, vomiting, rash, sensitivity to light and confusion.9,10,11
Because meningitis may initially present with flu-like symptoms, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish its diagnosis from the flu or other viral illnesses.9
The best way to help protect yourself is through vaccination
Vaccination against meningitis is your best defense against the disease, according to the CDC.12 Those interested in helping to protect themselves or their college students against meningitis ACWY and meningitis B can find vaccination by getting in touch with their health care providers, pharmacy, local health department or community health center. For more information visit CDC.gov/meningitis.
1. CDC. Meningococcal disease in Florida, 2022. Reviewed May 5, 2022. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/outbreaks/FL2022.html
2. CDC. Meningococcal vaccination for adolescents: information for healthcare professionals. Reviewed October 12, 2021. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mening/hcp/adolescent-vaccine.html
3. CDC. Recommended child and adolescent immunization schedule for ages 18 years or younger, United States, 2022. Reviewed February 17, 2022. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/child-adolescent.html
4. CDC. ACIP shared clinical decision-making recommendations. Reviewed February 10, 2020. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/acip-scdm-faqs.html
5. Marshall GS, Dempsey AF, Srivastava A, et al. US college students are at increased risk for serogroup B meningococcal disease. J Ped Infect Dis Soc 2020;9(2):244–247.
6. CDC. Meningococcal vaccination: what everyone should know. Reviewed October 12, 2021. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mening/public/index.html#types
7. Pingali C, Yankey D, Elam-Evans LD, et al. National, Regional, State, and Selected Local Area Vaccination Coverage Among Adolescents Aged 13–17 Years – United States, 2020. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep (MMWR) 2021;70(35):1183-1190.
8. McNamara LA, Blain A. Meningococcal Disease in: Roush SW, Baldy LM, Hall MAK, eds. Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Reviewed January 5, 2022. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt08-mening.html
9. Pelton SI: Meningococcal disease awareness: clinical and epidemiological factors affecting prevention and management in adolescents. J Adoles Health 2010;46:S9-S15.
10. Thompson MJ, Ninis N, Perera R, et al. Clinical recognition of meningococcal disease in children and adolescents. Lancet 2006;367:397–403.
11. CDC. Meningococcal disease: clinical information. Reviewed February 7, 2022. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/clinical-info.html
12. CDC. Meningococcal disease: prevention. Reviewed February 7, 2022. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/prevention.html