I recently received a call from a patient stating that his child was at a Santa Barbara university and there was an outbreak of meningitis. Indeed, there have been two meningitis outbreaks–one on the West and the other on the East Coast. Both outbreaks have been caused by serogroup B Neisseria meningitidis–but two DIFFERENT strains of it!
What does meningitis act like? Fever. Headache. Rash.
Does our routine meningitis vaccine work? It does work against serogroups A, C, Y, and W-135. It does not work on serogroup B. The CDC and the FDA have allowed administration of a serogroup B meningitis vaccine that is used in European Union and Australia to be given to “certain individuals” in New Jersey as that outbreak had eight cases over a several-month period. This is a highly unusual move for the CDC and is discussed further on their website www.cdc.gov.
Our job is to vaccinate per guidelines: one meningitis vaccine at age 11-12 and a booster at age 16 and to watch for symptoms of meningitis.
Take care, everyone!