meningococcal disease

Meningococcal Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

Table of Contents

What is meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is a very serious sickness caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitis. It can cause meningitis, and also other really bad infections.

What are meningitis B symptoms?

  • High fever
  • Bad headache
  • Neck feels stiff
  • Feeling like you want to throw up
  • Can’t stand bright light
  • Feeling confused or not thinking clearly
  • Rash, which starts as small red or purple spots and can turn into big 

What is the difference between meningitis and meningococcal?


It’s when the covering of the brain and spine gets swollen. Can happen because of different germs like bacteria,  viruses, or fungi. Symptoms include fever, bad headache, stiff neck, and sometimes a rash.


This uses a type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. When it causes meningitis, it’s called meningococcal meningitis. Beside  meningitis, it can also cause serious bloodstream infections. Symptoms are similar to meningitis, including fever, headache, stiff neck, feeling sick, confusion, and a rash.

What are the causes of Meningococcal disease?

Neisseria Meningitidis bacteria

  • The main cause of meningococcal disease. It’s a type of germ that can make people sick.
  • There are different types of this germ, some more dangerous than others.

Spread through Coughs and Sneezes

  • Passed from person to person through coughing or sneezing.
  • Being close to someone who’s sick can make you more likely to get it.
  •  Sharing things like utensils or kissing can spread germs too.

Contact with spit or snot

  • Being near someone’s spit or snot. Happens a lot in crowded places.
  • Directly touching spit or snot can also pass on the germs too.

Living Close Together

  • Living in places like dorms or military camps.
  • Being close to others can help the germ spread.
  • Sharing living spaces makes it easier to catch the germ.

Weakened Immune System

  • People whose immune systems are weak.
  • Certain medicines or health conditions can weaken the body’s defenses.
  • They’re more likely to get sick from the germ.

Genetic Factors

  • Some people might be more likely to get meningococcal disease.
  • Certain traits or genes could make someone more at risk.
  • Differences in genes can affect how well the body fights off the germ.

Outbreaks in big Groups

  • Places where lots of people gather. Schools, camps, or bid events.
  • Being close to others in these places can make it easier for the germ to spread.

What is meningococcal septicemia?

Meningococcal septicemia is a very serious illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. It happens when these bacteria get into the bloodstream, causing a widespread infection in the body.

Meningococcal vaccine?

Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccines (MCVs)

  • The main cause of meningococcal disease. It’s a type of germ that can make people sick.
  • There are different types of this germ, some more dangerous than others.


  • Sometimes causes mild effects like redness or pain where the shot was given. Serious allergic reactions are rare but possible.
  • Overall, the benefits of getting vaccinated outweigh the risks for most people.

Meningococcal B Vaccine (MenB Vaccines)

  • Protects against a specific type of meningococcal disease (type B). Helps prevent meningitis and blood infections.
  • Recommendation for teens and young adults in certain situations.


  • Might cause minor side effects like soreness or a low fever. Serious allergic reactions are rare.
  • Most people benefit from getting the vaccine, but it’s essential to talk with a doctor first.

MenACWY-TT Vaccine

  • Guards against four types of meningococcal disease. Prevents meningitis and blood infection from these strains.
  • Recommendation for teens and adults, especially travelers going to risky areas. Might lead to minor side effects like soreness or a slight fever.
  • Serious allergic reactions are rare.
  • Overall the benefits of vaccination are greater than the risks for most individuals.

Is the meningococcal vaccine safe?

Yes, meningococcal vaccines are safe for most people. They have been tested a lot to make sure they work well and don’t cause big problems. Most side effects are minor, like a sore arm or feeling a little tired. Sometimes people might get a mild fever or headache. These side effects usually go away on their own. Serious problems from the vaccine are very rare. But if you’re worried, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor before getting the vaccine. Overall, getting vaccinated against Meningococcal disease is a good way to protect yourself from getting seriously sick.

Who cannot take the meningococcal vaccine?

Severe Allergic Reaction

  • If someone has had a really bad allergic reaction to the vaccine before, they shouldn’t get it again.
  • Allergic reactions can be dangerous, so it’s better to avoid the vaccine if this happened before.

History of Guillain-Barre Syndrome

  • If someone has Guillain-Barre syndrome after getting the vaccine before, they should not get more doses.
  • This syndrome affects the nerves and can happen after the vaccine sometimes.

Feeling sick

  • If someone is sick right now, they might need to wait until they’re better before getting the vaccine.
  • Being sick can make the vaccine not work well, so it’s better to wait until the person is better.


  • Pregnant women should talk to their doctor before getting the vaccine to make sure it’s safe for them and the baby.
  • Some vaccines can affect pregnancy, so pregnant women need to ask their doctor.

Weak immune system

  • People with really weak immune systems, like those getting cancer treatment, might not do well with the vaccine.
  • The vaccine might not help as much in people with weak immune systems, so they may need to avoid it.

Previous bad reaction

  • If someone had a bad reaction to the vaccine before, like a high fever or big swelling, they might not be able to get it again.
  • Bad reactions can happen, so it’s important to avoid the vaccine if someone had a bad experience before.

How is meningococcal disease transmitted?

Meningococcal disease spreads through spit or mucus from a person who’s sick. It spreads when people are close, like when they cough, sneeze, kiss, or share things like utensils or cups. The bacteria that cause meningococcal disease can easily spread in places with lots of people, like schools, dorms, or homes. Doing things that involve being close to others can make it easier to catch the disease. To stop it from spreading, it’s important to cover coughs and sneezes and avoid close contact with someone who’s sick.

What's the prognosis for someone with meningococcal disease?

The outlook for someone with meningococcal disease can vary. If it’s caught early and treated quickly with antibiotics, most people will get better without lasting problems. But if the disease isn’t treated fast enough, it can lead to serious complications or even death. Even with good medical care, meningococcal disease can still be very serious, especially if it causes severe complications like blood infection or organ failure. So it’s crucial to get medical help right away if someone shows signs of meningococcal disease

How to Diagnose?

Talking about symptoms

The doctor asks about how you feel and what symptoms you have. They check for things like fever, headache, or a stiff neck.

Checking your body

The doctor looks at you to see if you have signs like fever, headache, or a rash. They also check if your neck feels stiff, which can mean you have meningitis.


They might take a little bit of your blood or spinal fluid to check for the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. This helps them know if you have meningococcal disease and how to treat it.

Bacterial Culture

If they find the bacteria, they do more tests to know what kind it is and which medicines can help. Knowing the type of bacteria helps doctors pick the right antibiotics to fight the infection.

Others check

Depending on how sick you are, they might do more tests to see if the disease has affected other parts of your body. They might do things like blood tests or scans to check for problems or how bad the infection is.



  • Doctors give strong medicines to kill the bacteria making someone sick.
  • These medicines can be given through a needle in a vein or as pills.

Supportive care

  • Treatments to help with symptoms and make the body stronger.
  • This includes drinking lots of fluids, taking pain medicines, and getting extra help in the hospital if needed.


  • People with meningococcal disease are kept away from others to stop it from spreading.
  • This helps prevent more people from getting sick.

Prevention measures

  • People who have been close to someone with meningococcal disease may get antibiotics or shots.
  • This lowers their chances of getting sick and helps stop the disease from spreading to others.


  1. Get vaccinated: The best way to prevent meningococcal disease is by getting vaccinated. Vaccines protect against different types of bacteria that cause the disease. It’s recommended for teenagers, college students, and others who might be around a lot of people.
  2. Stay clean: Doing things like washing hands often and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze can help stop the bacteria from spreading.
  3. Avoid Sharing: Don’t share things like utensils, drinks, or personal items with others, especially if someone is sick.
  4. Take antibiotics if Needed: In some cases, doctors might give antibiotics to people who have been close to someone with meningococcal disease to prevent them from getting sick.
  5. Stay healthy: Eating well, getting enough sleep, and managing stress can help keep your body strong and less likely to get sick.covery.

What diet should we take for meningococcal?

Drink plenty of Fluids

  • Drink water, herbal teas, and clear soups to stay hydrated.
  • These help replace lost fluids and prevent dehydration, especially if there’s a fever.

Eat Soft Foods

  • Choose gentle foods like pain crackers, mashed fruits, and cooked vegetables.
  • Soft foods are easier to eat and digest when feeling unwell.

Choose Healthy Foods

  • Eat Healthy foods with lots of nutrients, like chicken, fish, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • These foods help the body heal and provide important vitamins and minerals.

Avoid Irritating Foods

  • Stay away from spicy, greasy, or heavily seasoned foods that might upset the stomach.
  • Also avoid acidic foods like citrus fruits, along with caffeine and alcohol.

Eat Small Meals Often

  • Instead of big meals, have smaller ones more often throughout the day.
  • This can help prevent nausea and make it easier to digest food.

Ask a Doctor

  • Talk to a doctor or dietitian for personalized advice on what to eat.
  • They can give specific recommendations based on individual needs and symptoms help with recovery.


What age is the meningococcal vaccine given?

  1. Around 11 or 12 Years Old: Many kids get the meningococcal vaccine when they’re around 11 or 12 years old. They might need a booster shot when they’re about 16.
  2. Before College: Lots of colleges ask students to get the vaccine before they start. This usually happens when they’re around 16 to 18 years old.
  3. For Military Recruits: People who join the military often get the vaccine when they sign up. This can happen when they’re between 18 and 25 years old.
  4. Traveling to Risky Places: If someone is going to a place where meningococcal disease is common, they might need the vaccine, no matter how old they are.
  5. For Some High-Risk Groups: People with certain health conditions or who live closely with others might need the vaccine at different ages.

Is meningococcal curable?

Meningococcal disease is a very serious illness caused by bacteria. It can make the covering of the brain and spinal cord swell (this is called meningitis). If not treated quickly, it can lead to severe problems like brain damage, loss of limbs, or even death.

How can I test for meningitis at home?

you cannot test for meningitis at home because it requires special medical tests done by a doctor. If you think you or someone else has meningitis, it’s very important to see a doctor right away.

Is meningococcal genetic?

Meningococcal disease is not something you inherit from your family, like some other health conditions. It’s caused by a bacterial infection that spreads from person to the person through things like coughing or sneezing. Even though genetics can affect how your body fights infections, meningococcal disease itself isn’t passed down in families. However certain genetic factors can make some people more likely to get sick if they’re exposed to the bacteria.

Is meningococcal airborne?

Meningococcal disease isn’t usually spread through the air like a cold or flu. Instead, it mainly spreads through close contact with the saliva or droplets from the nose and throat of someone who’s infected.

What drugs cause meningitis?

Rarely, certain medications can sometimes cause meningitis, which is swelling around the brain.

These drugs include:

  • Pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen.
  • Some antibiotics.
  • Drugs used to fight infection like antifungals or antivirals.
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is used for treating certain conditions.
  • Medications that affect the immune system, such as interferons or TNF inhibitors.

When does meningitis start?

Meningitis can start quickly or slowly. Symptoms often show up fast, usually within a few hours to a day or two after someone gets infected with the bacteria or virus that causes it.

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