Meningococcal Meningitis information
Please view the letter from Campus Health Services about meningococcal meningitis and immunization recommendation.
Following recommendations from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), we strongly encourage that all students receive the meningococcal meningitis vaccine prior to arriving on campus.
The CDC also recommend that other college students under 25 years old who wish to reduce their risk for meningococcal meningitis be vaccinated.
Meningitis can be caused by many germs including bacteria, viruses and fungi. This condition is an infection of the meninges—the tough outer membrane covering the brain and spinal cord. The meningitis of most concern is caused by bacteria named Neisseria meningitides. This condition is called meningococcal meningitis. Students who live in the dorms are at higher risk especially the 18 year old age group. However, older students and those living off campus are at risk as well.
This is a very serious illness that can be prevented by the meningococcal meningitis vaccine. The effectiveness of the vaccine tends to wane after 5 years which is why a booster is recommended.
Rates of infection
Meningococcal disease strikes 1,400 to 3,000 Americans each year and is responsible for approximately 150 to 300 deaths. Adolescents and young adults account for nearly 30 percent of all cases of meningitis in the United States. In addition, approximately 100 to 125 cases of meningococcal disease occur on college campuses each year, and five to 15 students will die as a result.
Who is at risk?
College students living in residence halls are more likely to acquire meningococcal disease than the general college population because of lifestyle factors such as:
- sharing personal items
- active or passive smoking
- irregular sleep patterns
- bar patronage
- excessive alcohol consumption (more than 15 drinks per week)
How it’s spread
The meningococcal bacteria can spread from person to person through exchange of respiratory and throat secretions, such as coughing and kissing. It can also be spread through the air via droplets of respiratory secretions.
Long term effects
Meningococcal infection can be contagious and progresses very rapidly. It can easily be misdiagnosed as the flu, and if not treated early, meningitis can lead to death or permanent disabilities. One in five of those who survive will suffer from long-term side effects, such as:
- brain damage
- hearing loss
- limb amputation
Meningococcal meningitis often begins abruptly and can progress from mild symptoms to a life-threatening illness in hours. Symptoms of meningitis include:
- high fever
- stiff neck
Vaccines for protection against Meningitis A,C,W,Y and B are available at NAU Medical Services by appointment. Please contact your insurance carrier or Campus Health Services to find out the cost of the vaccination as they can be expensive and not covered by your insurance.
For more information, contact us and/or consult with your family physician. You can also read answers to common questions about meningitis and get more information from the CDC.