Meningococci are a type of bacteria that cause serious infections. The most common infection is meningitis, which is an inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Meningococci can also cause other problems, including a serious bloodstream infection called sepsis.
Meningococcal infections can spread from person to person. Risk factors include:
- Age - it is more common in infants, teens, and young adults
- Living in close quarters, such as in college dorms or military settings
- Certain medical conditions, such as not having a spleen
- Travel to areas where meningococcal disease is common
In its early stages, you may have flu-like symptoms and a stiff neck. But the disease can progress quickly and can be fatal. Early diagnosis and treatment are extremely important. Lab tests on your blood and cerebrospinal fluid can tell if you have it. Treatment is with antibiotics. Since the infection spreads from person to person, family members may also need to be treated.
A vaccine can prevent meningococcal infections.
- Meningococcal Disease (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Diagnosis and Tests
- Bacteria Culture Test (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Meningococcal Disease: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Complications (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Spinal Tap (Lumbar Puncture) (Nemours Foundation)
Prevention and Risk Factors
- Meningococcal ACWY Vaccine: What You Need to Know (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF Also in Spanish
- Preventing Meningococcal Disease (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Safety Information for Meningococcal Vaccines (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Meningococcal Photos (Immunization Action Coalition)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Meningococcal Infections (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Molecular characteristics of Neisseria meningitidis carriage strains in university students in...
- Article: Informing the use of a supplementary immunisation programme for the management...
- Article: Adverse events following immunization (AEFIs) with anti-meningococcus type B vaccine (4CMenB):...
- Meningococcal Infections -- see more articles
- Meningococcal Disease: Information for Teens and College Students (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in Spanish
- Meningococcal Disease (Bacterial Meningitis) Vaccine and Pregnancy (Organization of Teratology Information Specialists) - PDF Also in Spanish