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What is meningococcal disease?

Page last updated 24 July 2020


Meningococcal disease refers to the group of illnesses that can be caused by bacterium commonly known as meningococcus (or Neisseria meningitidis).

Meningococcal bacteria live naturally in the back of the nose and throat in about 10% of the population without causing illness. In a small number of people, the bacteria passes the lining of the throat, enters the bloodstream and consequently causes meningococcal disease.

The infection can develop very quickly, however, if the infection is diagnosed early enough and the right antibiotics are given quickly, many people can make a complete recovery. However, for IMD, between 510% of people will die, even with treatment. Others will be left with permanent disabilities including loss of limbs or some form of brain damage.


Sources & Citations

2. The Australian Immunisation Handbook. Meningococcal disease. Available at: (accessed June 2020).

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

MAT-AU-2000217 - Date of preparation July 2020