Meningococcal disease is serious and can be fatal, though 90 to 95% of the people it infects recover with antibiotic therapy. Although Oregon's meningococcal disease rates remain above the national average, it is still uncommon here. Case rates have been declining ever since 1994, when 136 cases were reported statewide.
There are 13 types (serogroups) of Neisseria meningitidis, nine of which cause invasive disease (A, B, C, D, X, Y, Z, 29E and W-135). Serogroup B is by far the most common cause of meningococcal disease in Oregon, accounting for about 50% of cases. Meningococcal vaccines are effective against serogroups A, C, Y and W-135; until recently, there were no serogroup B meningococcal vaccines licensed for use in the United States.
The risk of vaccine-preventable meningococcal disease is low among Oregon college students. From 2010-2014, a total of 127 cases of meningococcal disease were reported to Oregon Health Authority; two of those occurred in Oregon college students. Both of those cases were caused by serogroup Y. College freshmen who want to reduce their already low risk can consider getting meningococcal vaccine.
Meningococcal disease is not highly contagious. Close contacts of cases (household members, daycare center classroom contacts, close friends) are at elevated risk of disease; after a case occurs, these persons should take antibiotics to prevent the infection. School classmates, those living in other dormitory rooms, and healthcare workers attending the case are generally not at elevated risk.