Meningitis is a general term describing an inflammation around the membranes (meninges) surrounding the brain. Most cases of meningitis are caused by a viral infection, but bacterial and fungal infections can also occur. Meningitis can resolve on its own in a couple of weeks or can become a life-threatening emergency.
The life-threatening disease known as meningococcal invasive disease is what this document focuses on. Meningococcal disease is an illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis which causes inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord (the meninges) resulting in meningitis. N. meningitidis can also infect the blood causing meningococcemia, or the lungs which causes pneumonia.
N. meningitidis is found in the noses and throats of 5 to 10 percent of the normal human population and rarely causes serious disease. However, the bacterium can get through the mucous membranes of the nose and throat and spread throughout the body causing meningococcal “invasive” disease.
Meningococcal invasive disease is reportable to the Iowa Department of Public Health by Iowa Administrative Code 641 IAC 1 .
Iowa Department of Public Health - Meningitis
CDC - Meningococcal Disease
CDC - Vaccine Information