college freshmen, meningococcal meningitis, Neisseria meningitidis, vaccines, chemoprophylaxis



  1. Estep, Michelle BSN, RN, PHN


Meningococcal meningitis (MM) is a disease process that can become insidious and deadly in a short amount of time if not properly diagnosed. New and effectively known treatments and preventions are the key to improve recovery. The Neisseria meningitidis (NM) bacteria is the culprit in the MM discussed in this article. The pathophysiology, symptoms, and assessment are important to review, as well as typical antibiotic therapy and other treatments. Morbidity and mortality is affected by the improvement of these therapies. Critical care nurses must correctly and prudently assess their patients quickly for rapid response to treatment. The vaccine for the NM bacteria associated with the serotype B is not available at this time. College freshmen are the most vulnerable population in contracting the disease because of small living spaces and lifestyle habits that increase their association with the disease. The issue of prophylactically giving the vaccine is controversial but may become necessary because of the increase in incidence in the last 5 years on college campuses. Chemoprophylaxis efficacy may also be of help to those healthcare workers exposed as well as to those individuals at high risk for contracting the disease after an exposure. Public health concerns with community and college campus participation and education can be key to a sense of well-being among those possible individuals who may be exposed. Steroid, coagulapathy, and immunotherapy, as well as other new treatments, are worth investigating and pursuing in these times of increased risk to certain vulnerable populations of people.