Meningococcal Disease

Meningococcal Disease can be classified into two categories, bacterial and viral meningitis. An acute bacterial disease, Meningococcal Disease is characterized by sudden symptoms of fever, intense headache, nausea and often vomiting, stiff neck and frequently a petechial (small purplish red spots) rash which may appear pink in color. Symptoms may mimic Influenza. Approximately 2,500 to 3,000 individuals are diagnosed with Meningococcal disease in the United States annually. Most cases seem to occur in the late winter to early spring. Although Meningococcal disease is primarily seen among very small children, this disease occurs commonly in children and young adults. College students particularly those who reside in dormitories may be at increased risk for Meningococcal disease. The general population may have an incidence of 1.1 per 100,000 while those students in dormitories have a rate of three to five cases per 100,000. Transmission occurs by direct contact, including droplets from the nose and throat of infected persons.

Viral meningitis is the most common type of meningitis, an inflammation of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord. It is often less severe than bacterial meningitis, and most people get better on their own (without treatment). However, it’s very important for anyone with symptoms of meningitis to see a healthcare provider right away because some types of meningitis can be very serious, and only a doctor can determine if you have the disease, the type of meningitis, and the best treatment, which can sometimes be lifesaving. Babies younger than 1 month old and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness from viral meningitis.

The exchange of saliva by kissing, sharing of food utensils, and sharing cigarettes is the most common modes of transmission among college students. Before early diagnosis, modern therapy and supportive measures the death rate exceeded 50%. The vaccine is administered with one dose for individuals two years of age. The vaccine may be given to pregnant females. You should not be vaccinated with this vaccine if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of this vaccine or are mildly ill at the time of scheduled Meningococcal vaccine.