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Meningococcal Disease


What is meningococcal disease?

  • Meningococcal disease is any illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis.
  • It is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children 2-18 years of age in U.S.
  • Meningococcal disease can be very serious, even life-threatening in 48 hours or less.
  • The two most severe and common illnesses caused by meningococcal bacteria include; o Meningitis - an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord o Septicemia - a bloodstream infection


What are the symptoms?

  • Symptoms of meningococcal disease are similar to influenza (flu) and may include:
    • Sudden onset of a high fever o Increased sensitivity to light
    • Headache      o Rash
    • Stiff neck      o Confusion
    • Nausea          o Severe aches and pain in the
    • Vomiting muscles, joints, chest or belly


How does meningococcal disease spread?

  • Meningococcal disease is spread person to person by sharing respiratory secretions, through kissing or coughing, close or lengthy contact, and among people who share a room or live in the same household. 
  • Anyone can get meningococcal disease, but teens and college freshmen who live in residence halls are at increased risk.
  • Some people can “carry” meningococcal bacteria in their nose and throat without getting meningococcal disease, but can still infect other people.
  • Most cases of meningococcal disease are spread by people who “carry” the bacteria with no symptoms, appear to be random, and not linked to other cases.
  • Meningococcal outbreaks can occur in communities, schools, colleges, prisons, and in other high risk populations. 


Where can I find more information?

  • Ask your doctor.
  • Call the Alabama Department of Public Health, Immunization Division, at 1-800-469-4599.

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