7. Meningococcal Disease What it is: A bacterial disease that can cause meningitis, an infection and swelling of the brain and spinal cord. It can also infect the blood. How you get it: It's caused by bacteria that live in the back of an infected person' nose and throat. It can spread through kissing or just living with someone who is infected. Symptoms are usually fever that starts suddenly, headache, and stiff neck. Getting diagnosed and treated ASAP is key. Why it’s serious: Between 1,000-1,200 people in the U.S. get meningococcal disease each year. Even with antibiotics, as many as 15% die.