Sarah Anne Mbaeyi MD MPH Division of Bacterial Diseases CDC 

College Students at Increased Risk of Meningitis Interview with:

Sarah Anne Mbaeyi MD MPH Division of Bacterial Diseases CDC 

Dr. Mbaeyi

Sarah Anne Mbaeyi MD MPH
Division of Bacterial Diseases
CDC What is the background for this study?

Response: College freshman living in residence halls, though not college students overall, have previously been identified as being at increased risk for meningococcal disease. However, these evaluations were conducted in the 1990s when rates of disease were higher, serogroup C was the predominant cause of disease, and before the availability of quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) or serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccines.

MenACWY vaccine is routinely recommended for all adolescents at age 11 years and 16 years, as well as unvaccinated or undervaccinated college freshmen living in residence halls. MenB vaccine is not routinely recommended for all adolescents or college students, but may be administered to persons aged 16-23 years, with the preferred age of 16-18 years, based on clinical decision-making. Meningococcal vaccines are also recommended during an outbreak, and in recent years MenB vaccines have been used during multiple outbreaks on college campuses.

In this evaluation, we aimed to describe the current epidemiology of meningococcal disease among college-aged young adults in the United States. What are the main findings?

Response: From 2014-2016, 166 cases of meningococcal disease occurred in persons aged 18-24 years, with an average annual incidence of 0.17 cases per 100,000 population. Six serogroup B outbreaks were identified on college campuses, accounting for approximately 30% of serogroup B cases in college students during this period. The relative risk of serogroup B meningococcal disease in college students versus non-college students was 3.54 (95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 2.21-5.41) and the relative risk of serogroups C, W, or Y combined was 0.56 (95% CI: 0.27-1.14). What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Although incidence of serogroup B meningococcal disease is low in the United States, college students are at increased risk compared to non-college students. College students, parents, and providers should be aware of the availability of MenB vaccines. In addition, with growing evidence of impact of the quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate MenACWY vaccine on meningococcal disease in adolescents, all adolescents should receive this vaccine regardless of college attendance. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Additional evaluations to assess risk factors for both sporadic and outbreak-associated serogroup B meningococcal disease infections among college students may be useful to inform priority groups for MenB vaccination during outbreaks and to inform individual clinical decision-making in adolescents.

I have nothing to disclose.


January 2019, VOLUME 143 / ISSUE 1
Meningococcal Disease Among College-Aged Young Adults: 2014–2016
Sarah A. Mbaeyi, Sandeep J. Joseph, Amy Blain, Xin Wang, Susan Hariri, Jessica R. MacNeil

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD