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Leon County health officials identify strain of meningitis-causing disease confirmed locally

Developing a vaccine for meningitis B was tricky. Even the existing vaccine doesn't protect against all B strains.
Jack Plunkett/AP Images for Novartis Vaccines
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AP Images
Andrew Meigs (18) receives Bexsero®, the Novartis meningococcal group B vaccine, which was recently approved by the FDA for those ages 10-25. Bexsero helps protect against group B, one of the most prevalent types of meningococcal disease in the US, in two doses. Andrew’s sister Leslie (also pictured) is a survivor who advocates for vaccination in Texas, their home state. Despite appropriate treatment, as many as 10 percent of people with meningococcal disease will die and almost one in five survivors will suffer long-term disability. Bexsero is not expected to cover all group B strains.

Leon County health officials are urging college students to get vaccinated against a particular strain of meningococcal disease.

The Florida Department of Health in Leon County reported on April 1 that there were three college students between the ages of 18-22 who were confirmed to have meningococcal disease.

In a press release issued on Wednesday, health officials explain fraternity and sorority members, along with students who live on campus, face a higher risk of contracting the disease.

They recommend undergraduate students get the Meningococcal B vaccine to protect against the strain that was identified locally after a health department investigation.

According to the health department, early symptoms include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • stiff neck
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • light sensitivity
  • confusion
  • rash

Meningococcal vaccines are available through health care providers, pharmacies and the health department's Roberts & Stevens (R&S) Clinic, located at 1515 Old Bainbridge Rd.

Those who want to make an appointment with the health department can call: 850-404-6403.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly implied that the three confirmed cases of meningococcal disease in Leon County are new. The cases were confirmed on April 1 and the strain was identified this week.