Meningitis B

The meninges are membranous layers of the brain and spinal cord that protect the central nervous system. The meninges are a familiar term for those attending science classes, and they have also beenfeatured in the news as athletes and concussions are currently makingheadlines. When an athlete like a football player is violently tackled, a coup-contrecoup effect occurs, in which the whiplash from the sudden acceleration and deceleration can cause damage to the meninges. The same thing can occur in a motor vehicle accident. However, there are ways for your meninges to be seriously damaged without stepping foot onto a field or into a vehicle.


Meningococcal disease is a serious illness caused by a type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. It can lead to meningitis (aninfection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and infections of the blood. Meningococcal disease often occurs without warning—even among people who are otherwise healthy [1]. Meningitis can occur through various means, including bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasiticinfections, andit canbe causedby taking certain medications. Even with treatment, meningococcal disease still kills 10 to 15 infected people out of 100. And of those who survive, 10 to 20 out of every 100 will suffer disabilities such as hearing loss, brain damage, kidney damage, amputations, nervous system problems, or severe scars from skin grafts [1]. The best way to treat meningitis is to become immunized by receiving a vaccine,ensuring thatone does not get meningitis in the first place.


Meningococcal disease can spread from person to person through close contact (coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact, especially among people living in the same household. Adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years old are at particular risk for meningitis, as are people who are packed into dense areas. This puts college campuses at a highrisk for meningitis outbreaks.In fact, the incidence of meningococcal disease among college freshmen living in dorms in the United States is more than three times what it is for those aged 18 to 23 years in the general population;in the last four yearsalone, seven college campuses have had meningitis outbreaks [2],and last summer, a 21-year old student from Central Michigan University died after being infected by meningitis B [6].


Meningitis through bacterial infection is particularly dangerous. There are several subgroups of bacterial meningitis, called serogroups. These include serogroups A, C, W, Y, and B. Until recently,thevaccines available and recommended in the U.S. only protected against serogroups A, C, W,and Y [3]. All meningitis outbreaks on college campuses from 2011 to 2016 werecaused by serogroup B, and serogroup B accounts for one-third of U.S. cases. Individuals can now take preventive measures and immunize themselves against meningitis serogroup B.


The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases explains that:


Two newer vaccines that offer protection against serogroup Bare recommended for permissive use in adolescents and young adults age 16-23 years, with a preferred vaccination age of 16-18 years. Individuals in this age group are encouraged to speak with their healthcare professional about vaccination. [2]


Healthy Campus 2020, which provides baseline numbers and goals for various health objectives on college campuses, has a topic area devoted specifically to boosting meningococcal immunization:


Objective IID-8d: Increase the proportion of students who report receiving the meningococcal vaccine.


At baseline in 2010, campus vaccination coverage for this objective was anywhere from 54.7–57.1% nationally. The goal for 2020 is to boost this to the 60.2–62.8% range [4].While some may bewary of immunizations, it’s important to note thatthe meningitis B vaccine wasgiven to over 8,000 people in clinical trials and over one million doses have been given since it was licensed with no concerns over its safety [5].


Not sure if you have received the meningitis serogroup B vaccination? Every student at WSU—whether they are an undergraduate or graduate studentat main campus, a satellite campus, or online only—can come in to receive a meningitis B vaccination, as well as other vaccinations.


You can make an appointment Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. by calling Campus Health at 313-577-5041, and check out for more information.




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