Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness that is caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus [muh-ning-goh-KOK-us]. These illnesses are often severe and include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia).
Meningococcus bacteria are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit (e.g., by living in close quarters, kissing). Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics, but quick medical attention is extremely important. Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best defense against meningococcal disease.
- Young adults are at increased risk. College students are at high risk because of risky behaviors and living in close quarters like residence halls or Greek housing.
- Currently Meningococcal vaccination is given at 11 & 16 years of age, but many young adults have missed it.
- Public colleges and universities in Idaho do not require immunizations to enter school.
- Many college students are unprotected.
- Check with your primary care physician or visit the Student Health Clinic to be sure you are up to date with your vaccines.
Resources on Meningitis:
Center for Disease Control
Meningitis Research Foundation