Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness that is caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus. 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.
For more information about meningococcal disease, click here.
There are vaccines that help provide protection against Neisseria meningitidis bacteria that are commonly seen in the United States. Like with any vaccine, meningococcal vaccines are not 100% effective. This means that even if you have been vaccinated, there is still a chance you can develop a meningococcal infection. People should know the symptoms of meningococcal meningitis and meningococcal septicemia since early recognition and quick medical attention are extremely important. For more information on the meningococcal vaccines, click here.
School Exclusion and Reportable to Public Health
Students with meningitis should be excluded during acute illness. For viral meningitis, student should be excluded until their fever is gone and they have been cleared by their doctor. For bacterial meningitis, the student should be excluded until 24 hours after the antibiotics have been started.
All forms of meningococcal disease should be reported to Ventura County Public Health.