Meningococcal Disease InformationAs of July 2005 schools in Washington are required to provide information on meningococcal disease to parents or guardians of all students entering grades 6-12.What is Meningococcal Disease?Meningococcal disease is a serious infection of the brain (meningitis) and blood caused by bacteria. Fortunately, this life-threatening infection is rare -- only about 75 people are infected each year in Washington. Adolescents and young adults are most likely to get meningococcal disease, especially those living in group setting such as college dormitories.How can I prevent it?The Department of Health wants you to be aware of meningococcal disease and how your child may prevent it. Talk to your children about good hygiene (regular hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, etc.) and warn them not to share items that may spread meningococcal disease and other bacteria and viruses: eating utensils, glasses, cups, water bottles, drinks, lip gloss or toothbrushes.Is there a vaccine?A meningococcal vaccine is available that can prevent up to 65 percent of meningococcal disease among adolescents and young adults. Talk with you child's doctor about the need for meningococcal vaccine for your child.