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Spinal Meningitis (Neisseria meningitidis)

What is Neisseria Meningitis?

Neisseria Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the fluid around spinal cord and brain. It is sometimes called Spinal Meningitis.

There are bacteria (types of germs) that can cause bacterial meningitis. Some of the leading causes of bacterial meningitis in the United States include Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus, Listeria and Neisseria meningitidis.

Children younger than 5 years are at greatest risk, followed by teenagers of high school age.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms include a high fever, headache and a stiff neck. Other symptoms might be nausea, vomiting, confusion and being sleepy. People with these symptoms should see their doctor.

Symptoms usually begin about four days after being infected, although that can range from 1 day to 10 days.

How is Neisseria Meningitis treated?

It can be treated with antibiotics. It is very important that the disease be diagnosed early and treated as soon as possible.

How do people catch this disease?

The Neisseria meningitidis bacterium is usually spread through close, personal or prolonged contact with respiratory or oral secretions. Unlike a cold or the flu, the bacteria that cause meningitis cannot be spread by casual contact or by breathing the air where an infected person has been. Prolonged, direct exposure and household contacts are risk.

For those at risk due to a known exposure, antibiotics can be administered to prevent contracting N. meningitidis.

What can be done to prevent this disease?

There is a vaccine available to prevent N. Meningitis.

All 11-12 years olds should be vaccinated with meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4). Now, a booster dose should be given at age 16 years.

For adolescents who receive the first dose at age 13 through 15 years, a one-time booster dose should be administered, preferably at age 16 through 18 years, before the peak in increased risk.

Adolescents who receive their first dose of MCV4 at or after age 16 years do not need a booster dose.

Is the public at risk?

There is no increased risk to the general public.

However, if you believe you may have been exposed, an evaluation for antibiotic prophylaxis is necessary.

References and Additional Information

www.cdc.gov/meningitis/bacterial.html

www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/index.html

www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/mening/who-vaccinate.htm

Recommended Immunizations For Children 7–18 Years Old (pdf)