Meningococcal Invasive Disease

Report Confirmed or Suspect Cases Immediately to the Local Health Department.

Meningococcal disease is any infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, or meningococcus. One serious infection it can cause is meningococcal meningitis - inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord. Meningococcal disease can become very serious, very quickly.

 

Return to the main meningitis page.


Educational Materials

Meningitis versus Meningococcal Disease: there IS a difference
Having meningitis doesn't always mean you have meningococcal disease. And having meningococcal disease doesn't necessarily mean you have meningitis. For more information on the different types of meningitis, please visit:

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Disease Prevention
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Serogroup B Meningococcal Disease Outbreak, Rutgers University – New Brunswick, 2019

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), Middlesex County Office of Health Services, and Rutgers Student Health, in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), continue to investigate two cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease associated with Rutgers University-New Brunswick (RU).

The first student became ill on February 3 and the second student became ill on February 19. Both students have since recovered. The NJDOH, Middlesex County Office of Health Services, and Rutgers Student Health worked closely together to ensure that close contacts were identified and referred for prophylactic antibiotics. No common link was identified between the two individuals.

The CDC performed special tests on the specimens from the two cases; the tests showed that the typing genes tested were identical between the two organisms. While we cannot predict whether there will be additional cases of meningococcal disease on campus, having two cases occurring over a short time with genetically related organisms suggests that there is an outbreak associated with Rutgers University – New Brunswick.

The organisms identified in these two cases are not closely related to the organisms involved in the 2016 outbreak of meningococcal disease associated with Rutgers University – New Brunswick.

The NJDOH and RU, with support from CDC, strongly recommend that the following Rutgers University-New Brunswick populations receive serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (MenB):

  1. All current and incoming undergraduate students including transfer students, regardless of whether they live in campus housing

  2. All individuals (including graduate students) who live in undergraduate on-campus housing

  3. All members of the Rutgers University – New Brunswick community with medical conditions that put them at increased risk for meningococcal disease. These conditions include all functional and anatomic asplenia (including sickle cell disease), persistent complement component deficiencies (C3, C5-C9, properdin, factor H, factor D), and taking Soliris® (eculizumab). Microbiologists who are routinely exposed to meningococcal bacteria should also be vaccinated.

People in the at-risk populations above who have not previously received a MenB vaccine should receive the first dose as soon as possible. Two vaccines provide protection against serogroup B meningococcal disease: Bexsero® (GlaxoSmithKline) and Trumenba® (Pfizer). In the setting of an outbreak, either two doses of Bexsero® or three doses of Trumenba® are recommended. It does not matter which brand someone receives. People should get the same vaccine brand for all doses — Bexsero® and Trumenba® are not interchangeable.

People in the at-risk populations who have not completed a series of MenB vaccine should complete the series now.

Immunity following receipt of MenB is short-lived. Evidence presented to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) suggests that vaccine recipients who completed a previous MenB vaccine series ≥ 1 year prior may no longer be protected against serogroup B meningococcal disease. For these individuals, a MenB booster dose may be needed for protection during the outbreak. If a booster dose is given, the booster should be the same product used to complete the primary series.  While there is no official ACIP recommendation on MenB booster doses at this time, public health officials are recommending the dose to optimize protection during this outbreak.

At this time, there are no recommendations to cancel any activities or scheduled events at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

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Rutgers University Meningococcal Disease Outbreak, 2016

Situational Update (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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Princeton University Meningococcal Disease Outbreak, 2013-2014

Situational Update (07/17/2015)

An outbreak of nine cases of serogroup (type) B meningococcal disease, associated with Princeton University, occurred between March 2013 and March 2014. All nine cases were caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup (type) B. The NJDOH, local health officials, Princeton University Health Services (UHS), in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), worked together to closely monitor the situation and stop the spread of disease. The University undertook a comprehensive effort involving numerous campus offices, student organizations and public health agencies to limit the illness and encourage students to get vaccinated. Ninety-eight percent of Princeton undergraduates have received at least one dose of the meningitis B vaccine and there have been no cases of serogroup B meningococcal disease occurring on campus or affecting Princeton students since November 2013.

As of March 2015, the risk of meningitis B at Princeton University is now considered the same as at any other university. CDC officials indicated that the risk level was reduced due to the passage of time since the last case.

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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Last Reviewed: 5/30/2019