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Meningococcal meningitis is a form of bacterial meningitis that occurs with increased incidence in college freshmen living in dormitories.

Humans are the only natural reservoir of the bacteria that causes meningococcal meningitis and the back of the throat is the site from which these bacteria are transmitted by aerosol or secretions to others.

Crowded living conditions, such as those encountered in military barracks or freshmen dormitories, favor transmission of these bacteria. Therefore, anyone living in these conditions has an increased risk of obtaining the disease, which is usually quite severe and can be fatal.

Because of the nature and severity of the illness, any measure to help reduce the risk of contacting it would appear to be a prudent and advisable option.

Recommendations from the Advisory Committee and Immunization Practices of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention support the use of a meningococcal vaccine for use in helping reduce the risk of contracting meningococcal meningitis in college freshmen.

The vaccine has proven to be safe and effective in helping reduce the incidence of disease in high-risk situations and should be offered to all entering college freshmen who will be living in college dormitories.

The potential benefits of disease prevention outweigh the risk and cost (if not covered by your insurance policy) of the meningococcal vaccination.

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