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Meningitis in Adults (cont.)

Is It Possible to Prevent Meningitis in Adults?

  • Antibiotics can be given to help prevent meningitis if a person has had the following:
    • Close contact with someone who has meningitis
    • Prolonged close contact (those who live, go to school, or are in jail with a person with meningitis)
    • Exposure to mouth, nose, or lung secretions (for example, kissing, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, sharing drinks or utensils)
  • Even if antibiotics are given for prevention, anyone who has been exposed to someone with meningitis needs to seek medical attention if sore throat, fever, headache, rash, or neck stiffness develops.
  • Preventive antibiotics are not necessary for all cases of meningitis and are generally not necessary unless the doctor suspects or confirms that the meningitis is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis.
    • Incoming college freshmen who live in close quarters, such as dormitories, may be given a vaccine to prevent this type of bacterial meningitis.
    • The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says this group is at a small but somewhat increased risk for meningococcal meningitis.
    • Other college students may also elect to have the single-dose shot.

Are There Meningitis Vaccinations?

  • A vaccine is available for meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitides. Meningococcal conjugate vaccine is routinely recommended for all 11- through 18-year-olds and is often administered as part of a well-child checkup at 11-12 years of age.
    • The CDC has recommended this vaccine for the following groups of people:
      • College freshmen living in dormitories
      • Military recruits
      • Those whose spleen has been removed or is damaged for any other reason to due to disease or injury
      • Those with a specific blood problem called "complement deficiency"
      • Travelers to areas where meningitis is common
  • The pneumonia vaccine may provide protection against some types of meningitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae. It is recommended primarily for people at risk for pneumonia but may provide some protection from meningitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae as well. People who may benefit from the pneumonia vaccine include all people over 65 years of age, as well as
    • people with chronic lung disease,
    • debilitated people,
    • people with sickle cell anemia,
    • people who have had their spleen removed.
  • Although not normally given to adults, the Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine is routinely given to children and is effective in preventing meningitis due to this type of bacteria. It is not normally given to adults but may be useful for people with the following:
    • Sickle cell anemia
    • Leukemia
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Removal of the spleen
    • Bone marrow transplant
    • Receiving chemotherapy for cancer
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017

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