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Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus [muh-ning-goh-KOK-us]. These illnesses are often severe and can be deadly. They include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia).

These bacteria spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit (e.g., by living in close quarters, kissing). Doctors treat meningococcal disease with antibiotics, but quick medical attention is extremely important. Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best defense against meningococcal disease.

College Outbreaks

UMass Amherst

The University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst) is experiencing an outbreak of serogroup B meningococcal disease. UMass Amherst is recommending and offering vaccination to its students. Learn more from UMass Amherst.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University (OSU) has an ongoing outbreak of serogroup B meningococcal disease. Students should check with OSU about requirements to get vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine. Learn more from OSU.

Risk of Meningococcal Disease When Taking Eculizumab (Soliris®)

Taking eculizumab (Soliris®) increases your risk for meningococcal disease. Even if you received meningococcal vaccines, you could still get meningococcal disease. Learn more about this risk factor.

Signs and Symptoms

Two teenage girls

Signs and 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.


Meningococcal Vaccination