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Meningococcal Disease

A word about Meningococcal Disease….

Meningococcal disease is any illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis.

These illnesses are often severe and include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and the bloodstream (septicemia). Diseases like these can even be life-threatening in 48 hours or less.

Meningococcus bacteria is spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions. College students, who often live in crowded surroundings, are at particular risk for developing this illness. Signs and symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck. It can also start with symptoms similar to the flu and can cause nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, rash and confusion. The disease can be treated with antibiotics, but quick medical attention is extremely important. There is a recommended vaccine for meningococcal disease that provides the best defense against such illnesses. The first vaccine is given between 11-12 years of age, with a booster at age 16.

For more information on the disease or the vaccine:

  • Contact your doctor
  • Call the Alabama Department of Public Health, Immunization Division at 1-800-469-4599
  • Visit the Centers for Disease Control website