Neisseria meningitidis, or meningococcus, is a bacteria that can cause invasive meningococcal disease (IMD). This disease can lead to severe illness such as bacterial meningitis and sepsis, and can even result in death.

Meningococcal disease spreads through respiratory secretions such as coughing and sneezing, and close contact with infected individuals can put one at risk. The disease can occur sporadically or in outbreaks, particularly in crowded environments like college campuses and military barracks.

The symptoms of IMD can start off with flu-like symptoms, but rapidly progress to more severe symptoms like a stiff neck, high fever, and rash. If one suspects they may have meningococcal disease, they should seek medical attention immediately.

Thankfully, there are steps that can be taken to prevent meningococcal disease. Vaccines are available for all ages, and those living in close quarters like college students and military personnel are encouraged to get vaccinated. Additionally, practicing good hygiene such as frequent hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes can help to reduce the spread of the disease.

If you suspect you or someone you know may have meningococcal disease, seek medical attention immediately. Early treatment is critical in preventing serious and potentially fatal outcomes.