Every SECOND counts. If you suspect meningitis, GET MEDICAL HELP IMMEDIATELY. Call or see your doctor / Call an ambulance / Get to a hospital.

What Can be Done to Protect Against Meningitis?


The bacteria and viruses that cause meningitis are contracted through close personal contact including sneezing, coughs, kissing, not washing hands before eating, and after going to the toilet.  Always use tissues or a handkerchief when coughing or sneezing to protect those around you.

Children who attend day care and preschool are at greater risk of contracting bacterial meningitis: 

Encourage your day care centre or preschool to ensure that all children there have had Pneumococcal, and Meningococal C immunisations, as well as the standard childhood immunisation series.

When someone is diagnosed with meningococcal infection (meningococcal meningitis and/or meningococcal septicaemia), very close family contacts and other intimate contacts of the patient are at an increased risk of contracting the disease. With meningococcal infection and sometimes with Hib infections, antibiotics are offered to these close contacts.

Public health doctors are urgently notified of each case of meningococcal disease and conduct a 'contact trace.' The 'contact trace' is conducted to identify people who have been in 'high risk contact' with a person who has meningococcal disease, within the seven days prior to onset of the disease.  'High risk contacts' are usually people who have been living in the same household as the person who developed the disease or who had close contact with the patient.

Where a case of meningococcal disease involves a patient who attends a childcare group, or school class, individual in-depth assessments of particular circumstances are made.  Usually, other contacts such as school friends and workmates are normally not at any significant risk and generally do not need special treatment with antibiotics or investigation. 

People who are identified as high-risk contacts are offered preventative or prophylactic antibiotics. They reduce, but cannot eliminate, the risk of family members or other high risk contacts also becoming ill. Because of this, if contacts who have received antibiotics become unwell or exhibit some of the symptoms of meningitis or septicaemia, it is vital they also seek urgent medical attention.

If you suspect meningococcal disease or have any other concerns, contact your doctor without delay, or call Healthline free on 0800 611 116 at any hour of the day or night, even if you have already been seen by a health professional.

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.

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