Teens at Risk of Meningitis

How do you get meningitis?


They may not know it, but teenagers and young adults are at greater risk of getting meningococcal disease (meningitis) and are more likely to die compared to younger age groups.1

  • In fact, about ten percent of the 800 to 1200 Americans who get meningococcal meningitis each year will die.1-4


Certain lifestyle factors are thought to put healthy preteens and teens at greater risk of meningitis infection, including5-7:

  • Sharing drinking glasses, sharing eating utensils, or water bottles
  • Kissing
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Smoking (or being exposed to smoke)
  • Being in crowded situations for prolonged periods of time
  • Living in close quarters (ie, dormitories)

Learn how you can help protect teens from meningitis

Next: Types of Meningitis


  1. Atkinson W, Wolfe S, Hamborsky J, McIntyre L, eds. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book). 12th ed. Washington DC: Public Health Foundation;2011.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Notifiable diseases and mortality tables [provisional]—week ending December 29, 2012. MMWR. 2013;61(51 & 52):ND-719–ND-732.
  3. CDC. Prevention and Control of Meningococcal Disease. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR. 2013;62(2):1-32.
  4. Thigpen MC, Whitney CG, Messonnier NE, et al; Emerging Infections Programs Network. Bacterial meningitis in the United States, 1998-2007. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(21):2016-2025.
  5. Apicella MA. Neisseria meningitidis. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010;2737-2752
  6. Bruce MG, Rosenstein NE, Capparella JM, Shutt KA, Perkins BA, Collins M. Risk factors for meningococcal disease in college students. JAMA. 2001;286(6):688-693.
  7. MacLennan J, Kafatos G, Neal K, et al; United Kingdom Meningococcal Carriage Group. Social behavior and meningococcal carriage in British teenagers. Emerg Infect Dis. 2006;12(6):950-957.