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Help fight meningitis by understanding the real threat

Meningococcal disease shouldn’t be dismissed just because it’s uncommon. After all, once symptoms appear, the disease can progress quickly. And if that happens, it may be too late to stop its potentially devastating consequences.1

Time After Onset of Symptoms2,*

0-8 hours hourglass icon

0-8 hours:

Headache, sore throat/coryza, thirst, general aches, fever

9-12 hours hourglass icon

9-12 hours:

Decreased appetite, nausea/vomiting, leg pain, irritability 

13-20 hours hourglass icon

13-20 hours:

Rash, drowsiness, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, neck stiffness, cold hands and feet, photophobia, abnormal skin color

21-24 hours hourglass icon

21-24 hours:

Confusion/delirium, unconsciousness, seizure, death

Hypothetical case in an individual 15-16 years of age.

Hours expressed as medians.

Median time from onset of symptoms to first consultation with personal physician was 19 hours; median time between onset and hospitalization was 22 hours.2

Seizure was noted at a median of 26 hours.

Data were obtained from parents of test subjects via questionnaire (n=313) or interview with a study investigator (n=135). Parents were asked at what time of day their child’s symptoms began, as well as the time of appearance of predefined clinical features. Additional data were obtained from medical records for the course of illness before admission to the hospital in 448 children (≤16 years of age) with meningococcal disease (345 nonfatal cases; 103 fatal). Diagnosis was confirmed with microbiologic techniques in 83% of cases (n=373). The remainder of the children (n=75) were probable cases.2


Of those who contract meningococcal disease, approximately 10% to 15% die from complications related to the disease, despite appropriate treatment.3


The symptoms of meningococcal disease progress rapidly and can potentially lead to death, sometimes in as few as 24 hours.1,2


identified risk factors

Most people who contract meningococcal disease are healthy with zero identified risk factors.1


are asymptomatic carriers

A small proportion of the population are asymptomatic carriers of Neisseria meningitidis, the bacterium that causes meningococcal disease.3

Up to 20%
suffer permanent consequences

Among survivors of meningococcal disease, up to 20% experience permanent consequences, including seizures and other cognitive deficits, loss of limbs, kidney damage, hearing loss, and skin scarring.1,3,4-6

Did you know that many common adolescent behaviors can put adolescents at increased risk for meningitis?


Vaccination may not protect all recipients.


  1. Pelton SI. Meningococcal disease awareness: clinical and epidemiological factors affecting prevention and management in adolescents. J Adsolesc Health. 2010;46:S9-S15.
  2. Thompson MJ, Ninis N, Perera R, et al. Clinical recognition of meningococcal disease in children and adolescents. Lancet. 2006;367(9508):397-403.
  3. McNamara LA, Blain A. Meningococcal disease. In: Roush SW, Baldy LM, eds. Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Updated January 5, 2022. Accessed January 11, 2024.
  4. Meningococcal disease: clinical information. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated February 7, 2022. Accessed January 11, 2024.
  5. Slack R, Hawkins KC, Gilhooley L, Addison GM, Lewis MA, Webb NJ. Long-term outcome of meningococcal sepsis-associated acute renal failure. Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2005;6(4):477-479.
  6. Vyse A, Anonychuk A, Jäkel A, et al. The burden and impact of severe and long-term sequelae of meningococcal disease. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2013;11(6):597-604.