Meningococcal Meningitis

Meningococcal Meningitis

Life-threatening bacteria responsible for causing hearing loss, brain damage or death. Travellers in Africa can catch it through close contact with infected people or by sharing their personal possessions

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Key Facts around Meningococcal Meningitis

Meningitis is a devastating disease with a high case fatality rate and leading to serious long-term complications (sequelae).2


  • How do people catch this disease?

    Meningococcal epidemics are favored due to transmission as droplet infection when many people gather in close quarters: in kindergartens, schools, universities or the military.2,3 The disease occurs most frequently in the first year of life and in adolescents.3

  • Which countries are affected?

    People all over the world are at risk of meningitis. The highest burden of disease is seen in a region of sub-Saharan Africa, known as the African Meningitis Belt (see map).1

  • What are the symptoms?

    Rash, stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, headaches, pale or blotchy skin and vomiting.2

  • How serious is the disease?

    Bacterial meningitis can be fatal if not treated quickly enough. One in five people who survive bacterial meningitis may experience long-lasting after- effects such as: Hearing loss, seizures, weakness of limbs, impaired vision, speech, memory and communication, as well as scarring and amputation of limbs after sepsis.2

  • Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

    • Visit a travel health clinic to assess the risks of the planned trip and get advice about available vaccinations and further precautions.
      Click here to find your nearest travel health clinic and make an appointment:
    • Avoid close personal contact (such as kissing) or living in dormitories or other shared environments with people who have symptoms of respiratory illness4
    • Avoid sharing personal items such as eating and drinking4
  1. World Health Organization. Meningococcal meningitis, countries or areas at high risk, 2014. Available online THRiskMap.png?ua=1 (Last accessed October 2022)
  2. World Health Organization. Factsheet. Meningococcal meningitis. September 2021. Available online: (Last accessed October 2022)
  3. Impfung gegen Meningokokken. Available online: (Last accessed October 2022)
  4. Meningitis Centre. Available online: (Last accessed October 2022)

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