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Meningococcal Information

There are 5 types of meningitis. See below for much more information about this condition: 


For more information about meningitis from the TN Department of Health, please go to the following link:  TN DOH meningitis web page


TN State law 49-6-5005 states that schools shall provide parents/guardians with information about meningococcal disease and the effectiveness of vaccination. The meningitis vaccine is NOT required to attend Rutherford County schools.

What is meningococcal meningitis? Meningococcal disease, which includes meningococcal meningitis, is a serious bacterial infection that strikes between 800 and 1200 Americans each year. Although rare, meningococcal disease can cause meningitis, swelling of the tissues around the brain or spinal cord; bacteremia, a severe blood infection; or pneumonia. Vaccination has been available for years and is a safe and effective way to help protect against this potentially devastating disease.

Who is at risk for getting meningococcal meningitis? Although the disease occurs in all age groups, infants, adolescents and young adults, and people 65 years of age and older are at increased risk of contracting meningococcal disease.

How do you get meningococcal meningitis? The bacteria that cause meningococcal disease are spread through respiratory droplets and direct contact with respiratory secretions. Common everyday activities can facilitate this spread, including kissing; sharing utensils and water bottles; and being in close quarters, such as living in a dormitory. Fatigue may also put people at greater risk of meningococcal disease, possibly by weakening the immune system.

What are symptoms of meningococcal meningitis? Meningococcal meningitis can be hard to recognize, especially in its early stages, because symptoms are similar to those of more common viral illnesses. But unlike more common illnesses, the disease can progress quickly and may cause death in as little as 1 day. Symptoms may include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, confusion, vomiting, exhaustion, and/or a rash.

What can happen if you get meningococcal meningitis? Although rare, meningococcal meningitis is serious and can potentially cause the death of an otherwise healthy young person within as little as 1 day after symptoms first appear. About 10% to 15% of the 800-1200 Americans who get meningococcal disease will die. Nearly 1 in 5 survivors are left with serious medical problems, including: amputation of arms, legs, fingers, or toes; neurological problems; deafness and kidney damage.

How can you help prevent your child from developing meningococcal meningitis? Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have shown that, following infancy, there is a second peak in meningococcal disease incidence among adolescents and young adults between 16 and 21 years of age. Even though the disease is rare, it can result in severe, permanent disabilities and death, so it is important to take every precaution to help protect against it. To help protect against meningococcal disease, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends routine vaccination of adolescents 11 through 18 years of age (a single dose of vaccine should be administered at 11 or 12 years of age, with a booster dose at 16 years of age for children who receive the first dose before 16 years of age). Getting the booster, which is recommended by the CDC but not required in many states, is a critical step when it comes to following the recommended vaccination schedule. The booster helps provide protection through adolescence into young adulthood, which is a time when the risk of meningococcal disease tends to increase.

For more information:

Talk to your child’s school nurse or health care provider about meningococcal meningitis and its prevention.


Call the Rutherford County Health Department (Murfreesboro: 615-898-7758; Smyrna: 615-355-6175).

Visit the CDC web site

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