Learn about meningococcal disease and how you can protect yourself from this life-threatening illness1.
What is it meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease is also called cerebrospinal meningitis and is a highly contagious bacterial infection2. The disease is uncommon3 but once contracted, it can be life-threatening1. The onset of symptoms is sudden and the disease can progress very rapidly.1 Even with antibiotic treatment, invasive meningococcal disease causes death in about five to 10 per cent of cases.3
The meningococcus bacteria are responsible for causing meningitis (infection of the membrane covering the spinal cord and the brain), and septicaemia (infection in the bloodstream).3
About 1 in 10 people have these bacteria at the back of their nose and throat without ever causing disease. 3 However, in a small number of people, a dangerous strain of the bacteria can move through the lining of the throat, causing what is known as invasive meningococcal disease.3
Who are most at risk?
Meningococcal disease can appear in all age groups.3 The disease is most common in children and young adults between the ages of 15-24.3
It is not well understood why only a few people develop invasive illness, but this may be influenced by genetic, immune (e.g., preceding viral illness), societal (e.g., smoke exposure) or physical factors making them more susceptible to disease.1
Symptoms of meningococcal disease may appear anytime between 2 to 10 days after exposure, but usually between 3 to 4 days.1
The signs and symptoms may include the following:1
- Sudden onset of high fever
- Intense headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stiffness and pain in the neck
- Rash of red-purple pinprick spots or large bruises