Meningococcal disease is an illness caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. Meningococcal meningitis, the most familiar meningococcal disease, occurs when the lining of the brain and spinal cord become infected with the bacteria. The bacteria can also cause bloodstream infections.
Symptoms develop quickly, typically within 3-7 days of exposure. Symptoms progress rapidly and may include:
Meningococcus bacteria are spread through respiratory and throat excretions. These excretions can be exchanged during kissing, sharing a drink, or can be spread between people who live in close quarters, such as roommates.
Vaccination is required for students living in campus residence halls. Vaccination is recommended to anyone living in close quarters. Avoid sharing drinking cups, utensils, and cigarettes (including vapes and Juuls). Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics that prevent serious illness and can reduce the risk of spreading infection to another person. It is important to start treatment as soon as possible.
If a student presents with symptoms of bacterial meningococcal, they will be sent to the emergency room for testing of blood or cerebrospinal fluid. If Neisseria meningitidis bacteria are found, the sample is cultured to identify the specific kind of bacteria which will determine which antibiotic will work best. If you exhibit symptoms of meningococcal disease, please seek medical treatment immediately.