Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but potentially dangerous illness which can be caused by either viruses or bacterial. It can lead to dangerous swelling of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Viral meningitis is usually not as serious as the bacterial form, and viral meningitis is the more common of the two. Persons typically recover with minimal treatment. Bacterial meningitis can cause serious illness with possible long-lasting effects on the nervous system, or even death within 48 hours. If caught early bacterial meningitis is usually curable. Exposure occurs through droplet contamination from the nose or throat of a person with meningococcal disease. This is especially important information to students living in residence halls since exposure can occur more easily. Exposure can also occur through intimate contact such as kissing, sharing beverage containers, cigarettes or eating utensils. At first, symptoms may be typical of a cold or "flu", but there might then be a rapid progression to the following early warning symptoms:
Prevention of some types of bacterial meningitis is possible through vaccination. The protection is limited to specific strains of the bacteria. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended that students receive information regarding meningococcal disease and the benefits of vaccination. Talk to your health practitioner regarding the pros and cons of this vaccination.
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