Information About Meningitis

Two new serogroup B meningococcal vaccines (Bexsero and Trumenba) have recently been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration.  These vaccines are distinctly different from the existing meningococcal vaccine that covers serogroup A,C,W and Y (Menactra).

These new vaccines are recommended for people 10 years or older who are specifically at increased risk for serogroup B meningococcal infections, including:

·         People at risk because of a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak
·         Anyone whose spleen is damaged or has been removed
·         Anyone with a rare immune system condition called “persistent complement component deficiency”
·         Anyone taking a drug called eculizumab (also called Soliris®)
·         Microbiologists who routinely work with N. meningitidis isolates

These vaccines may also be given to anyone 16 through 23 years old to provide short term protection against most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease; 16 through 18 years are the preferred ages for vaccination.

The recommended schedule depends on which vaccine you get:

·         Bexsero® is given as 2 doses, at least 1 month apart.
·         Trumenba® is given as 3 doses, with the second dose 2 months after the first and the third dose 6 months after the first.

The same vaccine must be used for all doses.

Vaccine Information Statement (Interim)
Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccine (8/14/2015)
42 U.S.C. § 300aa-26

The Student Health Center will have the serogroup B meningococcal vaccine available for administration if requested by the patient and deemed clinically appropriate.

Please check with your insurance plan regarding coverage of this vaccine.

Refer to the CDC website for further information:

Prior Meningitis Case

On Thursday, September 18, 2014, Georgetown was notified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the meningitis case reported on campus on Tuesday, September 16 was caused by the meningococcal bacteria and was of serogroup B.

  • No new cases of meningitis have been reported in the Georgetown University community. We are in regular communication with Medstar Georgetown University Hospital to make sure we are informed of any new cases that present there.
  • Meningococcus is a type of bacteria that is a cause of “bacterial meningitis.” It is the bacteria that causes the meningitis infection known as “meningococcal meningitis.”
  • Members of the University community who experience symptoms, including sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, or dark purple rash, or have health concerns should immediately visit the Student Health Center or call (202) 687-2200 during business hours. After hours students should call (202) 444-7243 and ask for the clinician on call for the Student Health Center. If you are experiencing these symptoms, please visit the closest emergency room.
  • More information about meningococcal meningitis is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.


What is meningicoccal disease?

This is a form of meningitis commonly referred to as “bacterial meningitis” and more specifically known as meningococcal meningitis. According to the CDC, meningococcal meningitis is transmitted through direct exchange of respiratory and throat secretions by close personal contact, such as coughing, sharing drinks, kissing and being in close proximity for an extended period. The bacteria that cause this kind of meningitis are not as contagious as the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been. There is no evidence that you are at risk of catching the infection by touching surfaces like doorknobs, keyboards, or exercise equipment.

What should I do to protect myself against meningitis?

Members of the University community should pay increased attention to personal hygienic practices, including washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol based hand-sanitizers regularly. To further limit the spread of illness, you should also avoid sharing cups, cosmetics, toothbrushes, smoking materials or anything that comes in contact with the mouth.

What are the symptoms of bacterial meningitis?

Signs and symptoms of bacterial meningitis can include high fever, headache, vomiting or stiff neck. Signs and symptoms of a bloodstream infection, which these bacteria can also cause, can include vomiting, chills, rapid breathing, or dark purple rash. These symptoms can develop over several hours, or they may take a few days.

What should I do if I experience symptoms of meningitis?

Students should immediately contact the Georgetown University Student Health Center at (202) 687-2200. After hours students should call (202) 444-7243 and ask for the clinician on call for the Student Health Center. Faculty and staff should consult with your personal health care professional. Go to your nearest emergency room if you are not able to contact your personal health care providers.

Can it spread by touching surfaces?

According to the CDC, the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease require prolonged (lengthy) or very close, person-to-person contact in order to spread. The bacteria are much harder to spread than the virus that causes the flu, and they cannot live outside of the body for very long. There is no evidence that says you are at risk of catching the infection by touching surfaces like doorknobs, keyboards, or exercise equipment. Hand washing and covering your cough or sneeze are good hygiene practices to follow. The bacteria are not spread by casual contact like being in the same room as someone who is sick or carrying the bacteria or handling items that they touched. Sharing facilities like a cafeteria, gym, or classroom does not put someone at increased risk of infection. You must be in close contact with the person’s saliva (spit) or other respiratory secretions in order for the bacteria to spread.

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