Minnesota students attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison are being urged to get additional vaccinations for meningitis after a small but potentially dangerous campus outbreak this fall.

The Minnesota Department of Health said Thursday that undergraduates attending UW-Madison and returning home for winter break need a second dose of the vaccine to ward off meningococcal meningitis B.

The agency said families should schedule an appointment as soon as possible because many clinics may not have enough doses on hand.

Three cases of meningococcal disease, often called bacterial meningitis, were identified at UW-Madison in October. All three patients had the B strain, were hospitalized and "are now recovering," according to a Health Department statement.

UW-Madison helped set up vaccination clinics after the outbreak and got doses to about 70 percent of the school's undergraduate population of roughly 30,000. Health officials say about 2,000 of the students who got the first vaccination are from Minnesota.

Meningococcal disease is a rare and serious infection of the brain and spinal cord caused by bacteria. It can also cause blood infections.

The disease is spread through contact with secretions from the nose and from saliva. It can be spread through kissing, sharing silverware, drinking from the same container or coughing.

Minnesota health officials said the students' second dose should be the same type as the first that UW-Madison students received, Bexsero. Students should also tell their health care provider that they attend UW-Madison. Students need two doses of Bexsero one to two months apart to be fully protected, the agency said.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482