meningococcal; disease; immunisation;
Meningococcal bacteria live naturally in the back of the nose and throat in about 10 per cent of the population without causing illness. In a small number of people, particular strains of the bacteria get through the lining of the throat, enters the bloodstream and causes meningococcal disease.
The infection can develop very quickly. If infection is diagnosed early enough and the right antibiotics are given quickly, most people make a complete recovery. Even with antibiotic treatment, invasive meningococcal disease causes death in about five to 10 per cent of cases. Some people who survive the infection will have loss of some parts of their arms and/or legs.
Most cases occur suddenly and are unrelated to any other cases. Outbreaks where more than one person is affected are rare. Although everyone is a carrier at some time, carriers are most common among young adults and people who smoke.
To find out more about meningococcal disease and immunisation against it have a look at:
South Australian Health Department
Better Health Channel (Victorian Government)
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).
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