*Most of the questions on this page are about bacterial meningitis especially meningococcal meningitis and meningococcemia (generally known as septicemia). We encourage you to consult your health care provider for additional information. Our goal is to help you be aware and get help immediately in case you or someone close to you becomes ill and suspect meningitis.
What is the difference between meningitis and septicemia?
Meningitis means swelling of the meninges, the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Septicemia occurs when the infection enters the blood stream. Meningitis and septicemia can occur together or separately. They are caused by many kinds of invading germs, but meningococcal disease is a very stealthy illness and is difficult to diagnose. It is also the most common and most dangerous type of meningitis. Neisseria meningitidis is the causative organism for meningococcal disease which includes meningococcal meningitis and meningococcemia.
How prevalent is meningococcal meningitis?
Meningococcal meningitis affects about 3,000 people in the United States each year about 1 in every 100,000 people. The number of meningococcal cases in those aged 15 to 24 have nearly doubled in the last 10 years.
If meningitis is deadly, how come I‘ve never heard about it?
Because deaths from meningococcal meningitis are relatively rare compared to deaths from other infections, it often does not get the attention it deserves. It is a very serious and deadly disease though.
Are meningitis symptoms easily recognizable?
NO! Early symptoms often mimic the flu or a very bad cold. Adolescents frequently avoid seeking treatment when they feel sick. Learning to recognize the early symptoms of meningitis are important because immediate evaluation by a doctor can save your life.
After being exposed to an infected person, when do I start showing symptoms?
From the time the bacteria get into a person’s mouth or nose, it may take from two to ten days for the person to become sick. The average time is three to four days.
Should I get treated with antibiotics right away after a friend is diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis?
YES! If you were in close prolonged contact with a friend who has become ill with meningococcal meningitis, you should contact your doctor. He can determine if you had significant contact that requires prophylactic antibiotics.