Between 2,400 and 3,000 persons in the U.S. get meningococcal disease each year. About half develop meningitis, and the rest contract other systemic forms of this infection. Among people of all ages in the U.S., this comes to an annual rate of about 1 per 100,000-which is relatively low compared to, for example, the overall pneumococcal disease rate of 23 per 100,000. However, meningococcal disease warrants our attention because its effects are so severe.

This information is excerpted from the book Vaccinating Your Child: Questions and Answers for the Concerned Parent (Peachtree Publishers, Ltd., 2000). The book’s authors are Dr. Sharon G. Humiston, a pediatrician and clinical researcher at the CDC and the University of Rochester, and Cynthia Good, an award-winning journalist and host of the television show “Good for Parents”.