Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that causes two very serious illnesses: meningitis (an infection of the membranes that cover the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning). Meningococcal disease can cause death or permanent disability, such as deafness.
It can affect anyone, but it's more common in children under the age of 5, teenagers, and young adults. Students in their ﬁrst year of tertiary education living in student accommodation may also be at higher risk.
It's important to know the signs and symptoms of Meningococcal disease because it can develop very quickly. It can be treated with antibiotics, but early treatment is very important.
Meningococcal bacteria are difficult to catch as they don't live for very long outside of the body. They pass from one person to another through secretions from the nose or throat, during close or prolonged contact, for example:
Basic steps like covering your nose or mouth when you sneeze or cough, and washing and drying your hands can help reduce the chance of spreading the bacteria that can cause illness.