Skip to main content

How is meningococcal disease spread?

Page last updated 24 July 2020

Meningococcal bacteria live naturally in the back of the nose and throat of healthy adults and children, and can be quite difficult to spread. 

Generally, it takes person-to-person contact to spread these bacteria. The bacteria can be passed from one person to another through respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit). For example, prolonged household contact (living in the same house) or intimate contact such as kissing.

Meningococcal bacteria are found only in humans and cannot live more than a few seconds outside of the body. About 10% of people  become carriers of the bacteria without causing symptoms or disease, but they can still pass the bacteria on to others. 

Sources & Citations

3. Better Health. Victoria State Government. Meningococcal disease. Available at: (accessed 12 March 2020).

MAT-AU-2000217 - Date of preparation July 2020