Up to ten percent of us have meningococcal bacteria in our throats without becoming ill, during an epidemic, it can even be up to 25 per cent.2 So meningitis is a rare and unpredictable effect of carrying the bacteria.
How do people catch this disease?
Close contact with someone who is carrying meningococcus bacteria.2,3 The bacteria can be spread through coughing and sneezing, kissing or sharing eating and drinking utensils. Many people have meningococcus bacteria in their nose and throat without being ill.
Which countries are affected?
This kind of meningitis can occur in any country. But there are some areas, such as central Africa, where the risk is particularly high (see map).1
What are the symptoms?
Rash, stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, headaches and vomiting.2
How serious is the disease?
Meningitis caused by bacteria can be fatal if it’s not treated quickly. Severe cases result in brain damage and hearing loss in 10-20% of survivors.1,2
Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?
You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection: