Meningococcal disease is a devastating infection, a key cause of meningitis, sepsis, and, less often, pneumonia, pericarditis, and septic arthritis.Neisseria meningitidis (the bacteria that causes the disease) tends to strike young, otherwise well individuals and can progress to death in a matter of hours. Survivors may have serious long-term sequelae (eg, loss of limbs, hearing loss, neurocognitive dysfunction).
Paradoxically, meningococcal disease affects young people more often than older individuals. That is partly why the disease can be so devastating; it strikes people in the prime of life. It is also true, that prevention is very effective with this disease. The benefit is enormous when considering the value of a preventative vaccine.
Fortunately, this disease can be almost always prevented with proper vaccination. As the pandemic has taught all of us, vaccines play an important role in maintaining health. Preventing disease is always better than trying to treat and there is no better example than meningococcal disease.
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Mark Carlson, MD
Medical Director & Principal Investigator