FDA approves second vaccine against meningitis strain

Federal health regulators have approved a second vaccine to prevent a strain of bacteria that can cause deadly cases of meningitis.

The Food and Drug Administration said it cleared Novartis’ Bexsero vaccine against a subtype of meningococcal bacteria in people ages 10 to 25. The agency cleared a similar vaccine from Pfizer last October. Prior to that, vaccines available in the U.S. only covered four of the five main subtypes of bacteria that cause meningococcal disease.

In meningococcal disease, bacteria can infect the bloodstream, causing sepsis, or the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord—meningitis.

Meningitis symptoms include fever, headache and stiff neck, sometimes followed by nausea and vomiting.

The disease spreads through saliva and other throat fluids via coughing, kissing and sharing utensils.