Meningococcal Disease Information
Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but serious illness caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. Meningococcal disease can lead to meningitis, which is infection of the lining along the brain and spinal cord. This can cause hearing loss and brain damage. Meningococcal disease can also cause clotting of blood leading to loss of fingers, toes, or limbs. About one out of every ten persons who get meningococcal disease die from it.
There are at least 12 types of Neisseria meningitidis bacteria, called “serogroups.” Serogroups A, B, C, W, and Y cause most meningococcal disease.
Serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccines can prevent meningococcal disease caused by serogroup B. Other meningococcal vaccines can protect against serogroups A, C, W, and Y. In Oregon, the vaccine recommended for college students covers groups A, C, W, and Y.
Although anyone can get meningococcal disease but certain people are at increased risk, including:
- Infants younger than one year old
- Adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years old
- People with certain medical conditions that affect the immune system
- Microbiologists who routinely work with isolates of N. meningitidis
- People at risk because of an outbreak in their community
Symptoms specific to the disease are high fever, headache, stiff neck, exhaustion, nausea, rash, vomiting and diarrhea.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, please immediately visit your primary care physician or a nearby urgent care medical clinic or emergency room. OSU students experiencing these symptoms should visit OSU Student Health Services located in the Plageman Building, at 108 S.W. Memorial Place.
Meningococcal disease is not highly contagious and is transmitted through direct contact with droplets from an ill person coughing or sneezing; other discharges from the nose or throat; by sharing of eating and drinking utensils, smoking devices; or intimate contact.
People living in congregate settings, like residence halls or other communal living, are known to be more at risk for meningococcal disease as it tends to spread more quickly where large groups of people gather.
County health officials say customarily individuals who have spent at least four hours cumulatively in close, face-to-face association with a person suffering from meningococcal disease within seven days before the illness started are at risk of catching meningococcal disease.
- Do not share:
- Drinking glasses/cups
- Water bottles
- Cigarettes, pipes, e-cigarettes, hookah and other smoking and vaping devices
- Don’t drink out of a common source such as a punchbowl
- Cough into a sleeve or tissue
- Know that kissing poses a risk
- Wash and sanitize your hands often
Fact sheets and FAQ’s
- Bacterial Meningitis: Meningococcal Disease Fact Sheet
- Meningococcal B Vaccine Fact Sheet
- Meningococcal Disease FAQ: What college communities need to know
OSU Student Health Services Nurse Advice
Benton County Health Department communicable disease nurses
Oregon Health Authority