Talk to Patients About: Meningococcal Disease
By Sean Price Texas Medicine July 2018

Your patients might not be familiar with meningococcal disease because it is relatively rare in the United States. But when it hits, it’s nasty, leading to meningitis or bloodstream infections, among other ailments. 

It can cause lasting damage, and 10- to 15-percent of people who become infected die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Your patients could carry the meningococcus bacteria unknowingly. It spreads mostly through saliva, and about 1 in 10 people carry the bacteria in their nose and throat without showing any symptoms. Meningococcal disease also spreads easily in close quarters, like college dorms.

Those younger than 1 — but especially those between 16 and 23 — are most commonly infected. The CDC recommends all 11- to 12-year-olds be vaccinated and then get a booster at age 16. Texas mandates that all college students show proof that they received the booster. Even so, fewer than 1 in 3 eligible teens nationally get the booster. 

Thanks to vaccines, U.S. rates for meningococcal disease have dropped since the late 1990s. In 2016, Texas immunization rates for adolescents ages 13 to 17  were above the national average at 85.5 percent, compared with 82.2 percent. 

There is a lot of misinformation about vaccines, so each month Texas Medicine highlights a disease that can be prevented by childhood and adult immunizations. The material is designed to help you talk to your patients, and to help them understand the benefits of vaccines.

Download a printable copy of the infographic below.




Tex Med. 2018;114(7):46
July 2018 Texas Medicine Contents
Texas Medicine Main Page


Last Updated On

July 02, 2019

Originally Published On

June 21, 2018

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Immunization | Public Health

Sean Price


(512) 370-1392

Sean Price is a reporter for Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. He grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He's worked as an award-winning writer and editor for a variety of national magazine, book, and website publishers in New York and Washington. He's also helped produce Texas-based marketing campaigns designed to promote public health. Sean lives in Austin and enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with his wife and two sons.

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