The Food and Drug Administration recently announced the approval of Trumenba, the first vaccine licensed in the United States to prevent invasive meningococcal disease caused by serogroup B in individuals 10 through 25 years of age. The new meningitis vaccine targets the strain of the bacteria that caused outbreaks on a few college campuses last year.

According to the agency, meningococcal disease is a life-threatening illness caused by bacteria that infect the bloodstream and the lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Meningococcal bacteria are spread through respiratory or throat secretions, such as through coughing, kissing or sharing drinks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 500 total cases of meningococcal disease were reported in the United States in 2012; of those cases, 160 were caused by serogroup B.

Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of death or serious long-term problems, but immediate medical attention is extremely important. The agency stated vaccination is the most effective way to prevent meningococcal disease.