Signs you Have a Meningococcal Disease, Say Doctors — Eat This Not That


Meningococcal disease is a serious and potentially life-threatening infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. It can cause meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord, as well as sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for a successful outcome. Knowing the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease can help you seek medical attention quickly if you or someone you know is at risk. Here, doctors share the signs you have a meningococcal disease and what to do if you suspect you may have it.

Signs You Have a Meningococcal Disease, Say Doctors

Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection that can cause life-threatening illnesses such as meningitis and sepsis. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease so that you can seek medical attention if necessary. Here are some of the signs and symptoms that doctors say could indicate a meningococcal infection.


One of the most common signs of meningococcal disease is a fever. This can range from mild to severe and can be accompanied by chills and sweats. If you have a fever that does not go away or is accompanied by other symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention.


Headaches are another common symptom of meningococcal disease. These headaches can be severe and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. If you experience a headache that does not go away or is accompanied by other symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention.

Stiff Neck

Stiffness in the neck is another common symptom of meningococcal disease. This stiffness can be accompanied by pain and difficulty moving the neck. If you experience a stiff neck that does not go away or is accompanied by other symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention.


A rash is another common symptom of meningococcal disease. This rash can be red or purple in color and may look like small bruises or spots. If you experience a rash that does not go away or is accompanied by other symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention.

Eat This, Not That

If you think you may have meningococcal disease, it is important to take steps to protect yourself and others. Eating a healthy diet is one way to help prevent the spread of the disease. Eating foods that are high in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits and vegetables, can help boost your immune system and help fight off infection. Avoiding processed foods and sugary drinks can also help reduce your risk of infection.

Meningococcal vaccines are being recommended for gay and bisexual men in Florida after 26 cases of meningococcal disease and seven deaths were reported. “Because of the outbreak in Florida, and the number of Pride events being held across the state in coming weeks, it’s important that gay and bisexual men who live in Florida get vaccinated, and those traveling to Florida talk to their healthcare provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine,” says José Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Here are five signs you have meningococcal disease, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.

Sick man holding his chest in pain while coughing in the living room.

Meningococcal disease is a rare but serious illness which can lead to meningitis (infection of the lining of the spinal cord and brain) and and blood infections (septicemia). It is spread through close physical activity, for example kissing another person. “We want to make sure that gay and bisexual men are aware of the deadly outbreak in Florida and how easy it is to protect themselves — namely vaccination,” says CDC epidemiologist Dr. Sam Crowe. “Anyone can get the disease regardless of sexual orientation, age, race.”

couple in live holding hads while lying in bed together

“There is a large, ongoing outbreak of serogroup C meningococcal disease in Florida, primarily among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, including those living with HIV,” says the CDC. “Recent data show that about half of the cases associated with this outbreak are among Hispanic men. This outbreak is mostly affecting people who live in Florida but has also affected some people who have traveled to Florida.”

man hold his had and suffering from headache, pain, migraine

According to the CDC, symptoms of meningococcal disease are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Photophobia (eyes being more sensitive to light)
  • Altered mental status (confusion)

Getting a meningococcal vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the disease, experts advise. “Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly,” says Romero.

Shot of woman nutritionist doctor writes the medical prescription for a correct diet on a desk with fruits, pills and supplements.

Meningococcal disease is treated with antibiotics—the earlier the treatment, the better. “Meningococcal disease is serious,” says Cleveland Clinic. “Ten to 15 people out of 100 will die even if they’re treated with antibiotics. As many as 20% of people who survive will have long-term consequences that may include deafness, limb loss, nerve damage, kidney damage or brain damage. Complete recovery may take some time. The antibiotics are given over a seven-to-10-day period, but it may take much longer to feel better. This is especially true if you have complications.”


Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Ferozan Mast

Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more