Neisseria Meningitidis

Topic Overview

Meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis is sometimes referred to as meningococcal disease.

Some people have Neisseria meningitidis in their throats without getting sick. But they can pass it to another person, who may get sick.

Neisseria meningitidis causes meningitis in about 25% of the people who get the illness every year in the United States.1

Neisseria meningitidis also can cause outbreaks of meningitis. Outbreaks are most common outside the U.S.

If you are planning foreign travel, particularly to sub-Saharan Africa, talk with a doctor about getting the Neisseria meningitidis vaccine. Small outbreaks occur every year in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adolescents get 2 doses of meningococcal conjugate vaccine.2 Children 9 months to 2 years old also should get the vaccine if they are at high risk of having severe problems from meningitis. The vaccine protects against certain strains of Neisseria meningitidis. For more information, see the topic Immunizations.

People who have contact with someone with a Neisseria meningitidis infection may need to take a course of antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Roos KL, Tyler KL (2012). Meningitis, encephalitis, brain abscess, and empyema. In DL Longo et al., eds., Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 18th ed., vol. 2, pp. 3410–3434. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011). Updated recommendations for use of meningococcal conjugate vaccines: Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2010. MMWR, 60(03): 72–76. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6003a3.htm?s_cid=mm6003a3_e&source=govdelivery.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Last Revised December 6, 2012

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