Meningitis Facts

College freshman who live in residence halls are at higher risk for meningococcal disease compared to other people of the same age.

Know Your Risks, Learn About Vaccination

The risk for the disease among non-freshman college students is similar to that for the general population of similar age (18-24 years). 

Mindful of this potential threat, a U.S. health advisory panel recommends that college students, particularly freshmen living in residence halls, learn more about meningitis and receive a vaccine that will reduce their risk of meningitis.  Non-freshman college students who want to reduce their risk of infection should consider the vaccine also.

What is meningococcal meningitis?

Meningitis is rare.  But when it strikes, this potentially fatal bacterial disease can lead to swelling of fluid surrounding the brain and spinal column as well as severe and permanent disabilities, such as hearing loss, brain damage, seizures, limb amputation and even death.

How is it spread?

Meningococcal meningitis is spread through the air via respiratory secretions or close contact with an infected person.  This can include coughing, sneezing, kissing or sharing items like utensils, cigarettes and drinking glasses.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of meningococcal meningitis often resemble the flu and can include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, rash, nausea, vomiting, lethargy and confusion.

Who is at risk?

Certain college students, particularly freshmen or transfer students who live in residence halls, have been found to have an increased risk for meningococcal meningitis.  Other undergraduates living in College resident halls, who have not been recently vaccinated, should also consider vaccination to reduce their risk for the disease.

Can meningitis be prevented?

A safe and effective vaccine is available to protect against four of the five most common strains of the disease.  As with any vaccine, vaccination against meningitis may not protect 100 percent of all susceptible individuals. The vaccine may be available from health care providers or county health departments.

For more information

To learn more about meningitis and the vaccine, visit the Student Health and Wellness Center, ground floor Augustine Hall or call us at 631-4254. You can also get information at the CDC website