Contact Information
Los Angeles County
Department of Public Health
Immunization Program
3530 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Phone: (213) 351-7800
Fax: (213) 351-2780

Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Unit
Phone: (213) 351-7400
Fax: (213) 351-2781

Meningococcal disease is an acute, potentially severe illness caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitides. Neisseria meningitides is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis and sepsis in the United States. It can also cause focal disease, such as pneumonia and arthritis.

Meningococci are spread by droplets or secretions from the nose and throat of persons who carry the bacteria. The bacteria attach to and multiply on the mucous membranes of the nose and throat and then spread through the bloodstream to many organs. The incubation period is usually 3-4 days, but can range from 2-10 days.

Meningococcal meningitis is similar to other forms of acute meningitis, with sudden onset of symptoms that include: fever, headache, and stiff neck, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, photophobia (eye sensitivity to light), and altered mental status.

Meningococcal disease can be prevented by the two kinds of meningococcal vaccine available in the U.S. Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) is the preferred vaccine for people 55 years of age and younger. Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4) has been available since the 1970s. It is the only meningococcal vaccine licensed for people older than 55 as well as younger people. Both vaccines can prevent meningococcal disease caused by 4 serotypes of the bacteria, including 2 of the 3 serotypes most common in the United States, and another type that causes widespread sickness in Africa.

Two doses of MCV4 are routinely recommended for adolescents 11 through 18 years of age: the first dose at age 11 or 12 years, and the booster dose at age 16. Adolescents in this age group with HIV infection should get three doses: 2 doses 2 months apart at 11 or 12 years, plus a booster dose at age 16.

Infants and children, with high-risk conditions that put them at risk for meningococcal disease, can be vaccinated down to age 6 weeks with the appropriate vaccine product.

In addition, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has expanded meningococcal vaccine recommendations to include all gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) as well as all persons who are HIV positive. MSM regardless of their HIV status should receive 1 dose of meningococcal vaccine to prevent invasive meningococcal disease. Anyone who is HIV positive, should receive 2 doses of meningococcal vaccine at least 8 weeks apart. Consult with your doctor regarding the number of doses and timing, and the need for booster doses.

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Report cases to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

Business Hours:
Phone: (888) 397-3993 Fax: (888) 397-3778

After Business Hours
Phone: (213) 974-1234

Laboratory Testing Guidelines For
Measles and Mumps
It's Flu Season
Immunization Skills Institute
Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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