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Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness that is caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitides. These illnesses are often severe and include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia).

Meningococcus bacteria are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit (e.g., by living in close quarters, kissing). Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics, but quick medical attention is extremely important.

Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best defense against meningococcal disease. Vaccines are now available that help protect against five serogroups of meningococcal disease (A, B, C, W and Y) most commonly seen in the United States.

The vaccines that protect against serogroups A, C, W and Y are recommended for infants and children at high risk for disease by these four serogroups and routinely for adolescents ages 11 through 18. The serogroup B meningococcal vaccines are recommended for those 10 and older who are at increased risk for serogroup B infection and for individuals 16 through 23 years of age, on the basis of shared clinical decision-making, to protect against serogroup B meningococcal disease in certain settings.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Last Updated: October 08, 2020
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