Meningitis/bloodstream infections (meningococcal infections)

Meningococcal infections are caused by a germ called meningococcus. The germ lives in your nose or throat.

  • If the germ gets in your blood, it is called "blood poisoning."
  • If the germ gets into your brain, it is called "meningitis"

You can be colonized or infected by the germ.

  • Colonized means the germ is inside of your body, but you do not feel sick.
  • Infected means the germ is inside your body, and you feel sick.

People who get the meningococcal germ may have:

  • Fever 
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach/throwing up
  • Stiff neck
  • Skin rash
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion

The germ is spread by direct contact, not casual contact

  • Direct contact is when you are close enough to someone that you get the germ from their mucus or saliva.
    • You could get it from a person who has the germ by:
      • Kissing
      • Sharing a drinking glass or toothbrush
  • Casual contact means that you are around someone, but not very close to them.
    • For example, if you are in a classroom with someone who has the germ, you are not close enough to get the germ.
    • This germ only lives for a few minutes on surfaces, such as tables or clothing.

Your family and close friends should go to the doctor. They will get some medicine so they do not get sick.

Many people have this germ in their body and do not get sick. They can pass the germ to someone else. Only a few people who get the germ get really sick.

You will need to stay in the hospital to treat the infection. Your doctor will give you special medicines called "antibiotics."

Last reviewed: 
July 2017

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