From the Washington State Department of Health on Dec. 1, 2017:

There is a meningococcal disease type B outbreak at Oregon State University (OSU) with at least four cases. A fifth case is currently being tested for connection to the outbreak.

Winter break is coming up and many out-of-state college students from Washington will be returning home. Notably, OSU has many Washington-based students. Their winter break is December 9 to January 7. As a result, there may be an increase in the demand for meningococcal B vaccine in Washington. Vaccination of these students should be considered urgent. Providers should ask patients about attendance at a college or university, and consider meningococcal disease in their differential diagnosis for OSU students who present with meningococcal disease-like symptoms.

Action Needed:

  1. Vaccinate returning OSU students with meningococcal B vaccine. 
  2. Provide the student with a date for the follow-up dose(s) and make a plan to remind the patient when subsequent doses are due.
  3. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease, and keep it in mind for your differential diagnosis.

To be protected from this serious disease, students need to get meningococcal B vaccine (Bexsero or Trumenba) even if they have received the quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine. The meningococcal conjugate vaccine does not protect against the B strain. The winter break provides a great opportunity for students to update any other vaccines they need as well.

Review the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease: Signs of meningococcal disease are similar to other illnesses and can be hard to identify. Early identification and treatment can prevent disability and even death. Review the symptoms of meningococcal disease here.

Toolkit in 6 Languages

The Oregon Health Authority has developed a meningococcal disease toolkit for this outbreak. Several of the tools are customizable and include vaccine reminder cards, promotion posters, a door hanger, a college-specific FAQ, and fact sheets. The materials are available in English, Spanish, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Somali, and Arabic. Find the toolkits here.

Other resources

Thank you for your continued effort in keeping students and families healthy! If you have any questions, please contact immunenurses@doh.wa.gov.