COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT MENINGITIS B
IS MENINGITIS B LIFE-THREATENING?
It can be. Meningitis B is an uncommon but serious disease that is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. It can lead to an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord or an infection of the blood (known as septicemia). Meningitis B can strike without warning and progress quickly.
IS IT TRUE THAT MENINGITIS B CAN BE FATAL WITHIN 24 HOURS?
Potentially. Symptoms such as sudden fever, severe headache, and neck stiffness can progress rapidly and can become serious and possibly fatal. While most people recover from meningitis B, some may end up permanently disabled and suffer from disabilities including hearing loss, brain damage and nervous system problems, kidney damage, loss of limbs, and skin scarring. Although meningococcal disease is uncommon, about 1 in 10 people infected with the disease will die, sometimes within 24 hours.
HAVE THERE BEEN OUTBREAKS OF MENINGITIS B?
Although outbreaks of meningitis B are rare, they can be very serious. Several outbreaks and isolated cases of meningitis B have occurred on U.S. college campuses in the last five years.
WHY DO TEENAGERS AND YOUNG ADULTS HAVE HIGHER RATES OF MENINGITIS B?
The risk that a college student will get meningitis B is three times higher than those of similar age who are not in college. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that a meningitis B vaccination may be administered to young adults - ages 16 through 23 years old, but preferably those 16 to 18 years- to help protect against most strains of meningitis B. Adolescents and young adults (ages 16 to 23 years) have higher rates of meningitis since they often live in close quarters in college dormitories, military barracks, or engage in certain risky behaviors.
HOW DOES MENINGITIS B SPREAD?
The bacteria that causes the disease can spread when a carrier or infected person comes in close contact with another person (for example: by coughing or sneezing, kissing, or sharing eating utensils).
DO I NEED TO GET VACCINATED IF I ALREADY RECEIVED A MENINGITIS VACCINE WHEN I WAS YOUNGER?
Maybe, as there are two different types of vaccines for the five vaccine-preventable meningitis groups — A, C, W, Y, and B. While most teenagers have been vaccinated against meningitis A, C, W, and Y, many have not yet gotten the meningitis B vaccine, as it wasn’t available until late 2014.
Vaccination may not protect all recipients.
KNOW THE FACTS, BE PREPARED
Although vaccination may not protect all individuals, vaccination against meningitis is your best defense against the disease, according to the CDC.
It’s important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether meningitis B vaccination is right for you. Download this fact sheet to better discuss meningitis B with your healthcare provider: