Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that surround your spinal cord and brain. Viral and bacterial meningitis are the most common forms. Viral meningitis is often mild and resolves on its own, while bacterial meningitis can be life threatening if untreated.

Meningitis is contagious. It spreads through contact with bodily fluids and can pass quickly when people share a living environment or close quarters. This makes residence halls and classrooms high risk locations for meningitis transmission. For this reason, many colleges and universities require students to have proof of meningitis vaccination.

We’ll overview how meningitis passes from person to person, what you can do to limit your risk factors at school, and when to get vaccinated.

Meningitis spreads through contact with saliva, nasal drainage, and any other nasal and throat discharge. It can also spread through fecal matter or blood.

It is very easy for the disease to pass through avenues.

  • The cups or utensils are shared.
  • In enclosed spaces, coughing or sneezing can be done.
  • kissing
  • Sharing items such as cigarettes, lip balm, and toothbrushes.
  • Sharing needles for drugs.

Once a person is infectious, the disease can spread quickly. The symptoms of an infection can include a sore neck, a sore throat, and a throbbing head.

Complications from a severe case of meningitis, especially if untreated, can include hearing loss and permanent cognitive and motor impairments.

College dormitories, especially college dormitories that house college freshmen, are a group living situation where meningitis is known to spread quickly. That’s why college students have a slightly higher risk of getting meningitis than teenagers and young adults not at college.

While chronic conditions can increase your risk of getting Meningitis, the majority of people who get the disease in a college setting are in good health.

Being aware of your risk factors can help you take precautions to keep yourself and others safe.

Meningitis can also develop as a complication of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) syphilis, known as syphilitic meningitis, although this is very rare. Following safe sexual health practices can help prevent against syphilis and other infections.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are multiple factors that can increase your risk of getting meningitis. In addition to being a college student attending in-person classes or living in a dorm, risk factors include:

  • Age. Meningitis is most common in infants, teens, young adults, and older adults.
  • Travel. People who have recently traveled to some parts of sub-Saharan Africa might have an increased risk of getting meningitis.
  • Having a persistent complement component deficiency. Persistent complement component deficiencies are rare disorders that are typically genetic. Taking complement inhibitor medications for these disorders can also be a risk factor.
  • Having a chronic condition. Certain chronic health conditions are associated with an increased risk of getting meningitis and of developing a particularly a severe infection. This is especially true for conditions that affect the immune system, such as:
  • Not having a functioning spleen or having no spleen at all. The spleen plays a key role in creating the antibodies that respond to meningitis bacteria, so without this organ you’re more vulnerable to infection.
  • IV drug use. Drug use that involves shared or used needles, putting people’s blood in contact with each other, increases the risk of getting meningitis, hepatitis, The person is HIV, and more.

There are vaccinations available to help prevent bacterial meningitis, the most dangerous type. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 1 in 10 people who get bacterial meningitis die globally.

Since vaccines came into use in 1990s, the incidence of meningitis in the United States has declined substantially. After the CDC recommended the MenACWY vaccine for adolescents in 2005, the incidence of meningitis C, W, and Y dropped by more than 90 percent in this age group.

The CDC recommends that all preteens and teens receive meningitis vaccines. Many colleges require proof of a meningitis vaccine before a student can move into the dorms.

Here’s a look at the age recommendations for preteens and teens by vaccine type:

  • 11- to 12-year-olds. The MenACWY vaccine followed by a booster shot at 16.
  • All teens. The MenB vaccine. This vaccine is especially recommended for teens between 16 and 18 years of age and for teens and preteens who are at a medically high risk of getting meningitis. A medical professional can help you decide which vaccine is most appropriate.

In some cases, babies and children under 10 years of age will be advised to get the MenACWY vaccine. This includes babies and children who have The person is HIV, who don’t have spleens or have damaged spleens, or who take complement inhibitor medications.

There are circumstances when the CDC recommends a vaccine. This applies to people who have not beenvaccinated before, people who will be traveling to a high risk location, and people who frequently work with the disease.

Learn more about the vaccine.

In addition to vaccination, college students can take other steps to help protect themselves and prevent the spread of meningitis and other infections.

These measures are included.

There are other infections that can be spread on college campuses. Large numbers of people are in close quarters for group activities in college. This can cause the spread of diseases.

Infections that are common on campuses include:

In addition to vaccines for the types of bacterial meningitis, vaccines for the flu, HPV, and Covid-19 are also available.

The flu vaccine is annual. Many college health centers offer this vaccine, and it’s generally available from drugstores, grocery stores, and a variety of other local sources.

The HPV vaccine is normally started before a student reaches college. The vaccine is a series of two or three shots. A child can be given their initial HPV vaccine when they are as young as 9 years old.

There are several Covid-19 vaccines and boosters widely available. Learn more about the safety of Covid-19 vaccines here, and find out where you can get your first shot or boosters here.

Meningitis can be spread through bodily fluids. College dorms and classrooms are high risk environments for transmission of the disease.

The most dangerous type of the disease is the bacterium, bacteremia. Taking preventive measures such as not sharing food or utensils and washing your hands with soap and water is important.

Vaccination is a key factor in stopping the disease. Meningitis vaccines have been shown to be very effective at slowing the spread of the disease and saving lives.

If you want to live in dorms, you need to have proof of the vaccine. The vaccine is based on your age and risk factors. Talk to a doctor about scheduling vaccine counseling.