Cases of meningococcal disease, which is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, can be devastating and often – and unexpectedly – strike otherwise healthy individuals. While meningococcal disease is serious, doctors and researchers have known about it for decades. There are also meningococcal vaccines available and recommended to prevent some commonly occurring serogroups ("strains") of the disease in the United States.
Meningococcal disease is a reportable condition in all states, with cases immediately reported to state health departments. CDC closely tracks meningococcal disease through the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System and Active Bacterial Core surveillance.
Rates of meningococcal disease have been declining in the United States since the late 1990s. There are now fewer than 1,000 cases reported each year. Meningococcal disease is also seasonal: the number of cases generally peaks each year in December and January.
Anyone can get meningococcal disease, but rates of disease are highest in children younger than 1 year of age, followed by a second peak in adolescence typically around 18 years of age (see graph below).
Images and logos on this website which are trademarked/copyrighted or used with permission of the trademark/copyright or logo holder are not in the public domain. These images and logos have been licensed for or used with permission in the materials provided on this website. The materials in the form presented on this website may be used without seeking further permission. Any other use of trademarked/copyrighted images or logos requires permission from the trademark/copyright holder...more
This graphic notice means that you are leaving an HHS Web site. For more information, please see the Exit Notification and Disclaimer policy.