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Meningococcal Disease

Photo Source: CDC

Meningococcal disease is a rare, but serious infection that can cause meningitis (brain and/or spinal cord infection) and/or bacteremia (blood infection), and can lead to death.  It is caused by a bacteria (Neisseria meningitidis, also called meningococcus) that is transmitted from person-to-person through respiratory secretions (like saliva or spit) during face-to-face or prolonged contact (such as when living together in close quarters), or by sharing utensils, drinks, cigarettes, or other items that may be contaminated by these secretions.  Outbreaks have occurred in close living quarters such as college campuses.

Prompt medical attention is very important in order to start the treatment (antibiotics) before it is too late.  Exposed people should be evaluated as soon as possible for need for prophylaxis (antibiotics) to prevent infection.  Vaccines are available to protect against meningococcal disease and are part of the routine immunization schedule for all preteens and teens, and for certain persons at increased risk for complications of meningococcal disease due to age, certain medical conditions, or travel.  They are also recommended for use in outbreak control. 

  • CDC Meningococcal Vaccination
  • How can I get the vaccine?
    • You can talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated or you can get vaccinated at 1725 W. 17th Street in Santa Ana, CA 92706
      • If you just need the vaccine, go to the Immunization Clinic:
        Monday - Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed 11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.)
      • If you need the vaccine and STD and/or HIV testing, go to Testing, Treatment and Care Clinic:
        Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
        Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
      • Call (800) 564-8448 for more information.

Meningococcal disease is immediately reportable in Orange County, even if the case has not yet been confirmed but is suspected.  To report a case, health care providers/facilities should call OCHCA Epidemiology at 714-834-8180. 
An average of 5 cases (range, 2-11) of meningococcal disease were reported in Orange County each year between 2013 and 2017.

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Last reviewed February 1, 2019