What is meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is a rare but potentially serious infection caused by different strains of Neisseria meningitidis also known as meningococcus - bacteria.

Meningococcus bacteria include Neisseria meningitidis group B strains (MenB).

The most common forms of meningococcal disease are:
Meningococcal meningitis—an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord and;
Septicemia—an infection of the bloodstream.

While anyone can become infected, in 2011, the highest incidence of meningococcal disease in Canada was in infants under 1 year of age, followed by children under 5 years of age, and then adolescents aged 15 to 19 years.*

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms begin mildly like a cold or flu – with fever, headache, aches and pains in joints and muscles. These symptoms can progress rapidly into much more severe effects. Although most people fully recover, up to 10% of patients die, typically within 24 to 48 hours after the onset of symptoms. Of those who recover, up to 20% experience serious complications.

Meningococcal disease starts quickly and may progress rapidly to cause serious, possibly life-threatening infections.

What causes meningococcal disease?

Among the different types of meningococcal bacteria, five serogroups (A, B, C, W-135 and Y) are responsible for the majority of cases of meningococcal disease.

In Canada, the number of cases caused by each of these strains varies from year to year. From 2004 to 2007, there was an increase of MenB. In fact, in 2011, MenB was the most common meningococcal disease strain to affect Canadians.

In Canada, between 2007 and 2011, the average annual incidence of MenB was highest in infants under 1 year of age, followed by children 1 to 4 years of age, and adolescents aged 15 to 19 years.*

How can you help protect your child against MenB?

Prevention is the best strategy for combating any infectious disease.

Talk to your doctor about vaccination against MenB.

* BEXSERO® is indicated for children 2 months to 17 years of age.
Meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis group B strains.