Teens at Risk of Meningitis

Who is at Risk for Meningococcal Meningitis?


They may not know it, but teenagers and young adults are at increased risk of getting meningococcal disease (meningitis).1

  • Of note, about 10% to 15% of the 800 to 1200 Americans who get meningococcal meningitis each year will die.1-3


Certain lifestyle factors and behaviors are thought to put healthy preteens and teens at greater risk of meningitis infection, including1,4-7:

  • Sharing drinking glasses, sharing eating utensils, or water bottles
  • Kissing
  • Smoking (or being exposed to smoke)
  • 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. 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). Prevention and Control of Meningococcal Disease. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR. 2013;62(2):1-32.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. CDC. Meningococcal Meningitis: Causes & Transmission. http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/causes-transmission.html. 2014. Accessed August 28, 2014.
  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.