Meningococcal disease is a potentially life-threatening bacterial infection that can lead to meningococcal meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and
spinal cord, or meningococcal septicemia, an infection of the blood.
Meningococcal disease, caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, is the leading
cause of bacterial meningitis in older children and young adults in the United States. It
strikes 1,400 to 3,000 Americans each year and is responsible for approximately 150 to
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.
Evidence shows approximately 70 to 80 percent of cases in the college age group are
caused by serogroup C, Y, or W-135, which are potentially vaccine-preventable.