College students face >3-fold higher risk for meningococcal B

  • Mbaeyi SA & al.
  • Pediatrics
  • 1 Jan 2019

  • curated by Susan London
  • Clinical Essentials
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  • Compared with same-aged peers not in college, college students had more than triple the risk for serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) disease.

Why this matters

Key results

  • During the 3-year period, among all youth aged 18-24 years:
    • 166 cases of meningococcal disease.
    • Average annual incidence, 0.17 cases per 100,000 population.
  • There were 6 serogroup B outbreaks on college campuses (31.7% of all serogroup B cases in college students).
  • Compared with same-aged noncollege students, college students had:
    • Higher risk for serogroup B meningococcal disease (relative risk, 3.54; 95% CI, 2.21-5.41).
    • Lower risk for serogroups C, W, or Y meningococcal disease combined (relative risk, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.27-1.14).
  • College students' risk for serogroup B disease was still elevated when considering only sporadic (nonoutbreak) cases.

Expert comment

  • In a commentary, Lucila Marquez, MD, MPH, and Sheldon L. Kaplan, MD, write, "At a minimum, pediatricians should educate students and families regarding the increased risk of MenB infections in college students in the United States and inform them that 2 vaccines are available that can potentially protect college students from this infection."

Study design

  • Population-based cohort study using 2014-2016 data from National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System and enhanced meningococcal disease surveillance.
  • Analyses compared college students vs noncollege students aged 18-24 years.
  • Main outcomes: incidence, relative risk for meningococcal disease.
  • Funding: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


  • Possible nondetection of cases.
  • Small number of cases.
  • Inability to assess trends.

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