Meningococcal Meningitis is a potentially devastating illness caused by a bacteria called Neisseria Meningitidis. This bacteria can cause an infection in the lining of the brain and spinal cord, also known as “bacterial meningitis,” or a serious infection in the bloodstream called “septicemia.”

Signs and Symptoms

Early symptoms are fever, severe headache, stiff neck, rash, nausea, vomiting, and extreme fatigue and drowsiness.

Some people carry the bacteria in their nose and throat without making them sick. They may pass it on to a susceptible person through close contact or droplets such as sneezing or coughing.

Research suggests the higher incidence of meningococcal meningitis in people aged 15-24 years old may be due to the lifestyle of this age group. Some risk factors may include living in the residence halls, spending time in bars, too much drinking, and both active and passive smoking. Other risk factors may be stress and lack of sleep. Other people at risk include those who have a compromised immune system, or do not have a spleen.

If you think you have meningitis

If you think you might have meningitis, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Contact Student Health Services (703-993-2831), your personal physician, or another health care facility.

Prevention and Precautions

A safe and effective vaccine known as Menveo can help protect against meningitis. This vaccine is indicated for active immunization of adolescents and adults 11 through 55 years of age, and provides immunity for four types of bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. Student Health Services offers the vaccine through the Immunization Clinic.

People who have been or are in close contact with someone who has Meningococcal Meningitis are usually given a one time dose of an antibiotic known as Cipro to get rid of the bacteria in the nose and throat of the carriers.

A lifestyle that includes a good diet, at least eight hours of sleep a night, exercise, and limited alcohol can help you stay healthy.