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Can Meningococcal Disease Cause Injury and/or Death?

disease injury death

Meningococcal disease is rare in the U.S. and in 2017, there were 350 reported cases and 45 deaths resulting from the disease.1

The most serious complications of invasive meningococcal disease are meningitis and septicemia (meningococcemia). Meningitis involves the inflammation of the protective layers of the brain and spinal cord and accounts for 75 percent of severe meningococcal infections. Meningococcal disease can also cause meningococcemia, sometimes referred to as blood poisoning. Between 5 and 20 percent of invasive meningococcal infections result in meningococcemia. 10 and 15 percent of all invasive meningococcal disease cases result in death.2

Meningococcal disease can cause long-term residual health problems in cases where it does not prove fatal.  Between 10 and 20 percent of survivors suffer serious complications that can include arthritis, infections of the heart or eye, hearing loss, brain damage, loss of limbs or seizure. Children are more likely to suffer complications and long term serious residual health problems as a result of the disease.3

Less common infections resulting from invasive meningococcal disease include epiglottis, otitis media (ear infection), arthritis, and pneumonia.4

NVIC “Quick Facts” is not a substitute for becoming fully informed about Meningococcal disease, meningitis and the Meningococcal vaccine. NVIC recommends consumers read the more complete information following the "Quick Facts", as well as the vaccine manufacturer product information inserts, and speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child.

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1 CDC Enhanced Meningococcal Disease Surveillance report, 2017 : confirmed and probable cases reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, 2017 Nov. 21, 2018

2 CDC Meningococcal Disease – Clinical Features Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book). 13th ed. 2015.

3 Olbrich KJ, Müller D, Schumacher S et al. Systematic Review of Invasive Meningococcal Disease: Sequelae and Quality of Life Impact on Patients and Their Caregivers Infect Dis Ther. 2018 Dec; 7(4): 421–438.

4 CDC Meningococcal Disease – Clinical Features Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book). 13th ed. 2015.

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