Meningitis is spread through contact with respiratory secretions (such as sneezes and coughs) from someone with the disease. When infected, a person with meningitis will develop a high fever and flu-like symptoms between one to 10 days after exposure, most commonly within four days.
Ten to 14 percent of people who get meningitis die and 11 to 19 percent of the survivors have a neurologic disability, limb loss or hearing loss.
In January 2005 a new vaccine (MCV4) for meningococcal meningitis was licensed for use among people 11 to 55 years of age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Society for Adolescent Medicine are now recommending routine vaccination of young adolescents (ages 11 and 12) at a pre-adolescent health care visit and before starting high school (ages 14 and 15).
Routine vaccination is also recommended for college freshmen living in dormitories and for other populations at increased risk for meningitis (such as military recruits, travelers to areas with high rates of meningitis, other adolescents and college students, and persons infected with HIV).
Adverse reactions are usually mild and the most frequent reaction is pain and redness at the injection site, lasting one to two days. Severe reactions are uncommon, occurring in less than 0.1 out of 100,000 people who are vaccinated.
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Nancy L. Brown, Ph.D., M.A., Ed.S
Reference: Bilukha, O. & Rosenstein, N. (2005). Prevention and Control of Meningococcal Disease: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR, 54(RR07); 1 – 21. May 27, 2005