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Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection. It can be the cause of two very serious illnesses:

  • meningitis (inflammation of the brain membranes), and
  • septicaemia (blood poisoning).

Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics – but early treatment is very important.

Signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease

Meningococcal disease can look like influenza (the flu) in its early stages, but it quickly gets much worse. The symptoms and signs may not all show up at once, and the illness may develop gradually over one or two days, or much more quickly over a few hours.

People with meningococcal disease may have some or all of the following:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Sleepy, confused, unconscious, unsettled, irritable
  • Joint pains, stiff neck, aching muscles
  • Dislike of bright lights
  • Children may be unwilling to walk
  • Rash – purple or red spots or bruises

Meningococcal disease is life threatening don’t wait to take action!

If you or someone in your household is sick with one or more of the symptoms listed above:

  • Ring a doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116) straight away – whatever the time, day or night.
  • Say what the symptoms are.
  • Insist on immediate action – don’t be put off – a life may be at risk.
  • Even if a person with these symptoms has been checked by a doctor, watch them carefully.
  • Do not leave them alone – they may get worse suddenly and need help urgently.
  • If they get worse, go straight back to a doctor or ring Healthline again.

For further information visit Auckalnd Regional Public Health Service