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Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but serious and potentially life-threatening infection that usually involves the blood stream (bacteremia) and/or central nervous system (meningitis). Meningococcal infections are caused by certain serogroups (primarily B, C and Y in the United States) of the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis.

The bacteria are spread primarily by respiratory droplets (droplet spread) produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes and by direct contact with the saliva of an infected person (or carrier). Rates of disease are highest in young infants, adolescents and young adults. A vaccine is available to protect against infections with type A, C, W-135, and Y meningococcal disease and is recommended for all adolescents.

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