10 Things You Need To Know About Type B Meningitis

Seven individuals on campus have contracted a rare form of meningitis: Meningitis Type B over the past year. This outbreak (as deemed by media) of meningitis has lead to public attention, scrutiny, panic, and confusion. Welcome to Meningitis 101. Below are some quick facts about Meningitis Type B an the outbreak on campus.

(1) Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and the spinal cord and is most often caused by bacterial and viral agents. Bacterial meningitis is generally more severe than viral meningitis and is unlikely to be resolved without treatment. 

(2) The meningitis outbreak is Meningitis Type B.

(3) Meningitis Type B is caused by five bacterial strains: (1) Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, group B Streptococcus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Neisseria meningitidis. 

(4) Two meningitis type B vaccines are approved by the FDA. These vaccines target four of the above strains. Neisseria meningitidis is the untargeted strain and this strain has been implicated in the outbreak of meningitis on campus.

(5) The Bexsero Vaccine by Novartis (approved January 2013 by the European Commission) targets Neisseria meningitidis. The vaccine is also approved in Australia. The vaccine is currently in the approval process in the U.S.

(6) Symptoms of Type B meningitis include fever, chills, low blood pressure, rash, headache, altered mental status (confusion), stiff neck, hand/foot/mouth disease, genital warts, sensitivity to light, and dark purple spots on the arms. 

(Go to McCosh if you are even slightly concerned about experiencing some of the symptoms above).

(7) The bacteria can enter a latent stage. Thus, many carriers of the bacteria are asymptomatic.  

(8) The bacteria is spread via exchange of respiratory and throat secretions such as kissing or coughing or even lengthy contact (sharing a dorm room). 

(9) The CDC and FDA have recommended use of the Bexsero Vaccine on campus.

(10) The vaccine will be available in Decemember (for the first dose) and February (for the second dose). Princeton will not be able to require students to receive the vaccine because it is unapproved. 


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bacterial Meningitis. (2012). Accessed November 20, 2013.

European Commission. Bexsero Summary of Product Characteristics. Accessed November 20, 2013.