Can Meningococcal Disease be prevented and are there treatment options?
Meningococcal disease can be prevented by avoidance of situations that may encourage the spread of the disease such as refraining from travel to areas where outbreaks are occurring and by avoiding overcrowded areas.1 As smoking and second hand smoke exposure have also been noted to increase the risk of meningococcal disease, smoking cessation and limiting one’s exposure to second hand smoke may reduce meningococcal disease risk.2
Approximately 1 out of every 10 individuals carry meningococcal bacteria in the back of their throat but have no disease symptoms. Even without symptoms, they can still spread the bacteria to others, potentially causing another person to develop invasive meningococcal disease. Good hygiene practices can help prevent the spread of the disease. Not sharing utensils, drinking glasses, food, towels, toothbrushes and lipstick are effective ways to prevent transmission of the disease.3
Prophylactic antibiotics such as rifampin or ciprofloxacin can be used to prevent the spread of meningococcal disease among family members or close contacts of a person diagnosed with meningococcal disease.4
Invasive meningococcal disease is treated with antibiotics, and currently cephalosporins such as ceftriaxone and cefotaxime, are considered to be most effective against the disease.5 Blood and/or cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) is collected and tested to determine the presence of infection. These samples are also cultured to determine what specific bacteria are present so the most appropriate antibiotic can be selected to treat the disease.6
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 Mayon-White RT, Heath PT. Preventative Strategies on Meningococcal Disease. Arch Dis Child. 1997 Mar; 76(3): 178–181.
2 Harrison, LH Epidemiological Profile of Meningococcal Disease in the United States. Clin Infect Dis. 2010 Mar 1; 50(S2): S37.
3 Keifer, Dale. How Can I Avoid Getting Meningitis? Healthline. June 13, 2016.
4 Aronin SI, Quagliarello VJ Bacterial Meningitis - Preventive Pearls Infect Med. 2003;20(3)
5 Aquino Gondim, FDA Meningococcal Meningitis Treatment & Management – Pharmacologic Care Medscape Jul 16, 2018
6 CDC Diagnosis, Treatment, and Complications Mar. 28, 2017