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Meningitis is an infection that can lead to a dangerous swelling of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Either viruses or bacteria can cause the disease. College students have a greater risk of meningococcal infection that the general population because of activities that are often a part of college life, such as smoking, being around someone who smokes, going out to bars, drinking alcohol, and living in close contact with other students. The infection is spread through direct contact with oral secretions. Such contact includes coughing, sharing of toothbrushes or eating utensils, and kissing.

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