Although rare in the U.S., meningococcal disease can be serious and sometimes even deadly. According to the CDC’s Pinkbook, the case-fatality ratio of meningococcal disease is 10-15 percent, even with appropriate antibiotic therapy. The case-fatality ratio of meningococcemia is up to 40 percent. As many as 20 percent of survivors have permanent sequelae, such as hearing loss, neurologic damage, or loss of a limb.
Anyone can get meningococcal disease, but CDC reports that rates of disease are highest in children younger than 1 year old, followed by a second peak in adolescence. Among adolescents and young adults, those 16 through 23 years old have the highest rates of meningococcal disease. Although previously considered an issue only for college students, the disease is spread by coughing, sneezing, kissing and sharing drinking glasses or utensils so can affect adolescents and young adults regardless of their setting.
The following resources are for providers to increase their knowledge and assist in educating parents about the disease and preventative measures. Many parents may not understand that there are different vaccines that prevent different types of meningococcal disease.