Cases of meningococcal disease, which are 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.
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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. In 2013, there were about 550 total cases of meningococcal disease reported. Meningococcal disease is also seasonal: the number of cases generally peaks each year in January and February.
Anyone can get meningococcal disease, but rates of disease are highest in children younger than 1 year old, followed by a second peak in adolescence (see graph below). Among adolescents and young adults, those 16 through 23 years old have the highest rates of meningococcal disease.
The proportion of cases caused by each serogroup varies by age group. Serogroup B causes approximately 60% of cases among children less than 5 years old. Serogroups C, Y, or W, which are covered by meningococcal conjugate vaccines, cause approximately two out of three cases of meningococcal disease among persons 11 years old and older.
- Surveillance Manual's Chapter on Meningococcal Disease
- Active Bacterial Core surveillance Reports
(see Neisseria meningitidis)
- Page last reviewed: June 11, 2015
- Page last updated: August 5, 2015
- Content source:
- Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases