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.
Outbreak in Chicago
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms of meningococcal disease are usually sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. It can start with symptoms similar to influenza (flu), and will often also cause nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, rash, and confusion.
What You Need to Know
This one-page CDC vaccine information statement explains who should get meningococcal conjugate or polysaccharide vaccines and when.
Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccine & Outbreaks
Newly licensed serogroup B meningococcal vaccines can be an important tool for controlling outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease.
Offers comprehensive information about meningococcal vaccines and other educational tools.
As with all vaccines, there can be minor reactions, including pain and redness at the injection site, headache, fatigue or a vague feeling of discomfort.
Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
- Page last reviewed: April 1, 2014
- Page last updated: June 19, 2015
- Content source:
- Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases