Actor portrayal of two older teens sharing lip balm

About meningococcal meningitis

The risk of your teen getting this uncommon but extremely dangerous bacterial infection rises at age 16 and remains higher through age 23.

What is meningococcal meningitis?

It’s a form of meningococcal disease, and is often referred to as meningitis. It’s caused by bacteria that can live in the nose and throat.

Several different types of meningococcal bacteria can lead to meningococcal disease

leading types of meningococcal bacteria—A, B, C, W, and Y—cause nearly all cases

How could my teen get it?

Meningitis is spread by direct contact with someone else’s saliva. Everyday activities with close or extended contact allow the bacteria to pass from one teen to another, including:

Sharing food, drinks, or eating utensils

Sharing lipstick or lip balm



Meningococcal bacteria are not as easily spread as the viruses that cause colds and the flu

Being in close quarters for long periods is also a risk factor, such as living in dorms at boarding school or college

Some evidence suggests that transmission may happen when there’s overcrowding, especially when sharing behaviors are also taking place

Meningococcal bacteria can be passed from person to person. Some people can have these bacteria without showing signs. Most people never become sick, but they can still spread the bacteria to others.

Actor portrayal of older teens sharing a beverage and text reading "While most will not develop meningococcal disease, Up to 1 out of 4 teens may carry meningococcal bacteria"

How dangerous is meningococcal meningitis?

Survivors can suffer long-term effects, including:

The loss of a limb

Hearing loss

Brain damage

Although uncommon, death can occur less than 24 hours after symptoms first appear

More than 1 out of 10 cases result in death, even with treatment

Meningitis can strike even healthy teens without warning. It often begins with mild, flu-like symptoms. This can make diagnosis difficult, and crucial time can be lost.

According to the CDC, vaccination is the best defense against meningitis

Your teen may have received a meningitis shot at age 11 or 12. But they may not have received additional shots once they turned 16, to help protect them from all 5 leading types of meningococcal meningitis.

Learn how PENBRAYA™ can help

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