What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord that can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungus, and other pathogens. The disease is spread through close contact with an infected person, including kissing, coughing, sneezing, or shared eating and drinking utensils. Even if you do not get infected by the bacteria, you are at risk of carrying and spreading the disease to others. There are five strains of the disease (A, B, C, Y, and W-135) with the four latter being the most commonly reported types in Canada.
What is Meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease is an infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. This bacterium can cause serious and sometimes fatal diseases including meningitis (infection of the brain lining) and meningococcal septicemia (infection of the blood).
What is my risk?
Meningococcal disease occurs worldwide with seasonal variations.
Speak with one of our Travel Health Specialists to understand the risk of meningococcal disease for your trip.
How is it transmitted?
Meningococcal disease is spread from close and prolonged contact with an infected person through saliva or secretions (fluids) from the nose and throat. Examples include kissing, sneezing or coughing, living in close quarters with an infected person, sharing eating or drinking utensils.
Most people exposed to the bacteria do not become infected but may become carriers and spread the bacteria to others.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms take an average of four days to appear. In some cases symptoms may appear between two and ten days after infection.
They usually include high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. Other symptoms may include sensitivity to light (photophobia), confusion and a purplish skin rash.
Complications can include deafness, brain damage, seizures and may lead to death.
Can Meningococcal disease be treated?
The infection can be treated with antibiotics.
The disease is fatal in 5-10% of cases even when diagnosed and treated early.
Speak with one of our Travel Health Specialists preferably six weeks before you travel.
Get vaccinated. Discuss vaccination with one of our Travel Health Specialists.
Protect yourself and others from the spread of germs.
Wash your hands frequently. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.