Meningitis

PicMeningitis is an infection of the fluid surrounding a person's brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be caused by either a viral or bacterial infection. Viral meningitis is generally less severe and gets better without specific treatment, while bacterial meningitis can be quite severe and may result in brain damage or hearing loss. For bacterial meningitis, it is important to know which type of bacteria is causing the meningitis because antibiotics can prevent some types from spreading and infecting other people

Meningococcal Disease

Neisseria Meningitidis is one type of bacteria that can cause meningitis. This bacterium can also cause infection in the bloodstream (bacteremia and sepsis), lungs (pneumonia), and joints (arthritis). Symptoms of meningococcal disease include:

The bacteria live in the noses and throats of ill persons and spread through saliva and nose and throat secretions. Some people have the bacteria in their nose and throat but never become sick. Anyone can get meningitis, but the risk is higher in children 11-18 years old and in college students living in dorms. Meningococcal disease is uncommon. Less than 3,000 Americans get it each year. In Butte County, there is an average of 2-3 cases per year.

Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics, but treatment must be started early. Even when treated, 10-15% of people die and another 11-19% are left with permanent damage.

Prevention

Links

Meningococcal Questions and Answers

Vaccine Information Statement

Vaccines for Teens Website

California Department of Public Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention