The strain of Neisseria meningitis, the agent of meningococcal disease, that killed 18-year-old  San Diego State University (SDSU) freshman Sara Stelzer is the same strain seen in outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis on two campuses last year–Princeton University and UC Santa Barbara.

Neisseria meningitidis  Image/CDC
Neisseria meningitidis

San Diego County health officials confirmed that the strain of Neisseria meningitis that infected Ms. Stelzer was serotype B.

Why is this significant?

While reports state that Ms. Stelzer was vaccinated for meningococcal meningitis, the vaccines available in the US, meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Menomune®), and meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Menactra®, Menveo® and MenHibrix®), do not protect against meningitis B.

Last year into early this year, the FDA allowed the use of the Novartis vaccine, Bexsero, in campaigns against meningitis B on the two outbreak campuses. The serogroup B meningococcal vaccine is licensed for use in Europe, Canada, and Australia but not in the US.

In addition, SDSU officials report seeing some 1,000 students requesting prophylactic antibiotics or a medical evaluation.

Related: What is Bexsero? How common is meningococcal disease serogroup B?