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Meningococcal Disease

Updated: Sep 1, 2019

The recent outbreak of Mengococcal disease in Northland has made everyone a bit nervous about this disease and the risk of catching it. Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that causes two very serious illnesses: meningitis (an infection of the membranes that cover the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning). Meningococcal disease can be difficult to diagnose because it can look like other illnesses, such as the flu. Those most likely to catch meningococcal disease are children under 1 year, Maori and Pasifika children under 5 years, teenagers and young adults and people living in crowded situations.


Symptoms of meningitis can develop suddenly and include:

  • a high fever

  • headache

  • sleepiness

  • joint and muscle pains.

There are other symptoms and anyone suspecting they or their child is ill with meningococcal disease should seek treatment as soon as possible.


In New Zealand, children can be offered the MenB vaccine. The outbreak in Northland is a different strain – MenW and the vaccine for this is not funded at this time.


For more information on Meningococcal disease, click HERE.