Meningococcal disease

Meningococcal disease is a rare but serious bacterial disease.

About one in every 10 people carry this germ in the nose and throat.

Although most people who 'carry' this germ don't get sick, they are able to spread it to other people who, if infected, may become very unwell very quickly.

There are five main strains that cause meningococcal disease - A, B, C, W and Y.

The most common strain currently in the NT is W.


Symptoms of the disease may include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • confusion or drowsiness
  • neck stiffness
  • joint pains
  • rash
  • dislike of bright lights
  • vomiting.

When diagnosed and treated with antibiotics quickly, most people will make a full recovery. However, in some cases, it can lead to the following:

  • hearing loss
  • fits
  • limb amputation
  • renal failure
  • skin scarring.

About 8 to 10% of cases may result in death.


Meningococcal disease can be prevented by vaccination.

People aged one to 19 years can receive a free meningococcal ACWY vaccine from their local GP, community care centre, Aboriginal medical service or urban or remote health clinic.

People outside of the one to 19 year age group who wish to receive the vaccine can see their GP for a private script.

Meningococcal B vaccine is not funded. However, people over six weeks of age who wish to receive this vaccine should see their GP for a private script.


Find a community care centre or remote health service.

For more information, get the meningococcal disease fact sheet and the meningococcal vaccine program fact sheet from the Department of Health ePublications website or call your nearest Centre for Disease Control.

Last updated: 17 January 2019

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