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Meningococcal Infections

Summary

Meningococci are a type of bacteria that cause serious infections. The most common infection is meningitis, which is an inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Meningococci can also cause other problems, including a serious bloodstream infection called sepsis.

Meningococcal infections can spread from person to person. Risk factors include

  • Age - it is more common in infants, teens, and young adults
  • Living in close quarters, such as in college dorms or military settings
  • Certain medical conditions, such as not having a spleen
  • Travel to areas where meningococcal disease is common

In its early stages, you may have flu-like symptoms and a stiff neck. But the disease can progress quickly and can be fatal. Early diagnosis and treatment are extremely important. Lab tests on your blood and cerebrospinal fluid can tell if you have it. Treatment is with antibiotics. Since the infection spreads from person to person, family members may also need to be treated.

A vaccine can prevent meningococcal infections.

Start Here

  • (National Foundation for Infectious Diseases)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Symptoms

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Diagnosis and Tests

  • Bacteria Culture Test From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Prevention and Risk Factors

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF Also in
  • (National Foundation for Infectious Diseases)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Related Issues

  • (National Foundation for Infectious Diseases)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Images

  • (Immunization Action Coalition)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • Also in

Children

  • (Nemours Foundation)
  • (American Academy of Pediatrics)

Teenagers

  • (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in
  • (Children's Hospital Boston)

Women

  • (Organization of Teratology Information Specialists) - PDF Also in

Patient Handouts

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