SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Meningitis B has become more common across the country including right here in the Pioneer Valley and doctors and colleges are hoping to limit possible outbreaks.

Students preparing to head back to school may want to visit the doctor now as one local pediatrician shares.

Over 30 universities in the country are requiring students to get vaccinated, but they need to check with their physicians now to make sure they're ready for the Fall semester.

Dr. Shauna Ejtehadi, a Pediatrician explained the importance of the vaccination.

"The death rate is about 20% in patients that do get affected with this and that's with treatment," Dr. Ejtehadi said.

Dr. Ejtehadi from Baystate Medical Center told Western Mass News Meningitis B was the most fatal strain of Meningitis and since many have only received the regular four-strain Meningitis shot contracting B can be life-threatening.

"The B type is the one that is most common between the college ages at 16 and 23 and it's the most deadly one," Dr. Ejtehadi explained.

The bacterial infection affects the lining of the brain and spinal cord and potentially the bloodstream.

The vaccine wasn't licensed until 2013 so many incoming college students likely haven't had the proper shots.

"Colleges, some, are now requiring their students to have the B vaccination to come to college," Dr. Ejtehad said.

That's because over 50% of Meningitis B cases are college students who live in close quarters.

"Cough, sneeze share their utensils, if they were to be kissing all those things are reasons it can be transmitted," Dr. Ejtehad explained.

Baystate has seen a rush of teens, 16 and older receiving the shot which can be given one of two ways.

"The one brand you get it after 16 then wait one month and then you get the second shot and then you're done," Dr. Ejtehad said.

Depending on what a child received by their pediatrician they may need the alternative.

"You'll get the first dose after 16 waits a month or two get a second dose and then wait at least 2 months to then get the third dose," Dr. Ejtehad explained.

And with breakouts at UMass Amherst in 2017 and another case at Smith College in 2018, doctors are urging teens to get it.

"It can get fatal quickly," Dr. Ejtehad noted.

Look out for symptoms like light sensitivity high fever, severe headache, and stiff neck.

They come on fast, so if you notice any signs in yourself, a child or a friend make sure they see a physician immediately.

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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