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Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness that is caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitides. These illnesses are often severe and include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia).

Meningococcus bacteria are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit (e.g., by living in close quarters, kissing). Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics, but quick medical attention is extremely important.

Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best defense against meningococcal disease. Vaccines are now available that help protect against five serogroups of meningococcal disease (A, B, C, W and Y) most commonly seen in the United States.

The vaccines that protect against serogroups A, C, W and Y are routinely recommended for adolescents ages 11 through 18. The serogroup B meningococcal vaccines are recommended for people 10 and older who are at increased risk for infection.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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This information paper describes meningococcal disease and the vaccines to prevent it.

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