Ten to twenty percent of us have meningococcal bacteria in our throats without becoming ill.1 So meningitis is a rare and unpredictable effect of carrying the bacteria.
Close contact with someone who is carrying meningococcus bacteria.1,2 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.
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).3
Rash, stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, headaches and vomiting.1
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