Communicable Disease Service

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Meningococcal Invasive Disease

Rutgers University Meningococcal Disease Outbreak, 2016

Situational Update Updated (06/05/2016)

In March and April of 2016, two undergraduate students at Rutgers University - New Brunswick were diagnosed with meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis, serogroup B. Close contacts of both students were identified and notified to receive prophylactic (preventive) antibiotics. Both students have since recovered.

Special testing performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the bacteria from the two students are genetically indistinguishable (a match). Although no common link has been identified between the two students, the bacteria causing the infections match. This suggests that the strain is present among undergraduate students in the Rutgers University - New Brunswick campus and that there is an outbreak. The strain at Rutgers University-New Brunswick differs from the strain that was associated with the 2013-2014 outbreak of meningococcal disease at Princeton University.

There are currently two vaccines licensed in the United States that help protect against serogroup B meningococcal disease, Bexsero® (GlaxoSmithKline) and Trumenba® (Pfizer). Based upon the molecular profile and additional testing of the specific outbreak strain at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, the best protection is expected with the full three-dose series of Trumenba® (3rd dose 6 months after the first). Therefore, CDC and NJDOH recommend that Trumenba® be administered to help protect against the particular strain present on the Rutgers University–New Brunswick campus. While one or two doses of Bexsero® or Trumenba® will provide some short-term protection against the specific outbreak strain at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, the best protection is expected to require completion of the full three-dose series of Trumenba® with the second dose given 1–2 months after the first and the third dose 6 months after the first.

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and Rutgers University-New Brunswick, with support from CDC, strongly recommend that certain Rutgers University-New Brunswick populations receive Trumenba® during the summer of 2016. For more information on vaccination recommendations, please visit the Rutgers Student Health website: http://health.rutgers.edu/meningitis/

New Jersey (NJ) providers who participate in either the Vaccines for Children (VFC) or 317-Funded Adult Program should contact the NJ VFC program at 609-826-4862 or vfc@doh.nj.gov if interested in receiving Trumenba® as part of the outbreak response.

At this time, there are no recommendations to cancel any activities or scheduled events on the Rutgers University Campus. There are also no recommendations for the surrounding community to avoid contact with Rutgers or Rutgers students.

The NJDOH continues to stress basic infection prevention activities such as covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, cleaning your hands, and practicing healthy habits. Individuals should remain vigilant (have increased awareness) for signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease. Individuals who are ill should not attend school or work to prevent the spread of disease to others.

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