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Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but life threatening infection. The meningococcal bacteria (Neisseria meningitidis) are a significant cause of disease in New Zealand, especially in the very young, teenagers, young adults and those with medical risk factors.
The meningococcal bacteria can cause meningitis (inflammation of the meninges, the membrane lining of the brain and spinal cord) and/or septicaemia (blood poisoning).
There are thirteen different types or serogroups of meningococcal bacteria including Meningococcal Groups B, C, W135, A, Y and others, the most common in New Zealand being meningococcal group B and C.
Although the risk is low, meningococcal disease can affect anyone, anywhere, at any age and may be devastating for patients and their families. Meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia tends to be more common during winter and early spring.
Babies and young children (less than 5 years), and young adults (15-24 years) are most at risk from meningococcal disease. Smoking (both active and passive) and overcrowded conditions may be associated with increased risk of developing meningococcal infection, as is a recent viral infection.
Disclaimer - The Meningitis Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand promotes the prevention, control and awareness of meningitis. It is not a professional medical authority. The text on this website provides general information about meningitis and septicaemia, not medical advice. It is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of these diseases. Please consult your doctor to discuss the information or if you are concerned someone may be ill.
We need your help in reducing and preventing meningitis. Your support will assist the Foundation’s work in the fight against this disease.