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Meningococcal B


Meningococcal disease is a serious infection caused by a bacterium called Neisseria meningitidis. This bacterium can be divided into 13 different groups. Groups B and C are the most common cause of meningococcal disease in Australia. This bacterium can be found naturally in the nose and throat of some people.  


Meningococcal disease can occur when the bacterium moves down through the lining of the throat. It can then develop into a blood infection known as septicemia or can infect the membranes which cover the brain and spinal cord causing meningitis. It can also develop into pneumonia, arthritis or conjunctivitis. The infection caused by meningococcal disease can develop quickly and cause serious illness or even death, therefore early diagnosis is vitally important so that treatment can be quickly administered.         



Meningococcal disease is generally uncommon as it tends to be difficult to spread. It can be spread through infected droplets in the air to people who have been in direct and regular contact with an infected person. If you contract meningococcal disease, it can develop into invasive meningococcal disease which can cause a range of different symptoms. The symptoms that you may experience usually differ depending on your age. For young children and infants symptoms may include:  

  • Fever,  
  • Loss of appetite,  
  • Irritability,  
  • Extreme tiredness,  
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea,  
  • Convulsions,  
  • A red or purple rash that is characterised by pinprick spots or large bruises, and/or  
  • Sensitivity to light.      


For older children and adults symptoms may include:  

  • Fever,  
  • Headache,  
  • Loss of appetite,  
  • A stiff neck,  
  • Sensitivity to light,  
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea,  
  • Aching and swollen muscles and joints,  
  • Drowsiness,  
  • Confusion, and/or  
  • A red or purple rash that is characterised by pinprick spots or larger bruises.      


If you develop these symptoms it is important to seek immediate medical advice.      



If you do develop meningococcal disease, you will generally be quickly admitted to hospital and administered antibiotics by injection. It is important to receive treatment immediately to reduce the damage caused to your body by the meningococcal disease.      



Protection against meningococcal disease is available in Australia. There are currently a number of different vaccines available for meningococcal disease, including meningococcal B. These vaccines provide protection against different groups of meningococcal disease. Currently there are vaccines available for group C and group B and there is a combined vaccine for Group A, C, Y and W. Visit your local doctor to check if you and your family have been or need to be vaccinated for the different strains of meningococcal disease.      



The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.   Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.      



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