May 15, 2019
1 min read

MenB incidence five times higher among college students

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Gary Marshall
Gary S. Marshall

Between 2015 and 2017, the average annual incidence of disease caused by meningococcus serogroup B, or MenB, was five times greater among college students compared with those who did not attend college, according to findings published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.

The researchers wrote that MenB causes 38% of all invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) in the United States and nearly 70% of cases in people aged 16 to 23 years.

Gary S. Marshall, MD, professor and division chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed data from three nationwide surveillance systems and found that the incidence of IMD among those aged 16 to 24 years has declined since 2006. Around 2012, MenB became dominant over serogroups C, W and Y combined.

“This trend persisted through 2017,” they wrote.

Between 2015 and 2017, the incidence of MenB among college students was 0.22 per 100,000 compared with 0.04 per 100,000 among those who did not attend college. MenB was responsible for all college-based meningitis outbreaks between 2011 and 2019, the researchers said.

Infographic about incidence of meningococcal B disase among college students 

According to Marshall and colleagues, routine immunization against MenB is recommended only in outbreak situations — defined as two to three cases caused by the same serotype in a specific population in less than 3 months. Because of this recommendation, they said, the first two to three cases would not be preventable.

“Adolescents and their parents should be informed that safe and effective vaccines against MenB are available, and that attending college appears to increase the risk for disease,” Marshall told Infectious Diseases in Children. “Providers should be prepared to offer the vaccine to those who want protection.” by Katherine Bortz

Disclosures: Marshall reports numerous ties to industry. Please see the study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.