Meningococcal Explained
An Important Message on Meningococcal Disease from motherInc.s Medical Adviser, Dr Penny Adams.

Every so often frightening reports appear in the media about this "killer disease." And while these stories about Meningoccal are certainly alarming it is important for us, as mothers, to know the facts.

Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterial germ known as meningococcus. There are 13 different types of meningoccal bacteria. This disease is rare and affects less than one in ten thousand people in NSW. It can occur at any age, but is mostly seen in children and young adults. The disease is NOT easily spread and is only passed on by close person-to-person contact through saliva eg mouth kissing, sharing drink bottles, toothbrushes or cigarettes.

Meningococcal infections can lead to meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain), septicaemia (blood poisoning) and other illnesses. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, neck stiffness, vomiting, sore eyes sensitive to light, joint pain, and a rash. In young children, symptoms are often less specific and may include fever, drowsiness, vomiting, being unsettled and a rash. The rash is quite distinctive and may look like bleeding into the skin or purple-red spots. However, a rash does not always appear.


Most people recover completely from meningoccal disease with early treatment with antibiotics. In a few individuals, however, the disease can be serious and life-threatening.

A vaccine is available for the meningococcal C strain but there is yet  no vaccine for the meningococcal B strain. The meningococcal C vaccine is recommended for all babies at 12 months of age and currently in NSW free vaccine is provided for unvaccinated people up to 25 years of age.

THE BOTTOM LINE . if your child is unwell and you are at all concerned, seek early medical attention. A good place to go or seek advice is your local GP.