What is it?
Meningococcal disease refers to infections that are caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus. About 1 out of 10 people have this type of bacteria in the back of their nose and throat with no signs or symptoms of disease; this is called being a carrier.
Sometimes Neisseria meningitidis bacteria can invade the body causing illnesses which are known as invasive meningococcal disease. These illnesses are often severe and include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (meningococcemia).
In Canada, less than 1 person in every 100,000 develops meningococcal disease. Invasive meningococcal disease occurs most commonly in children under 5 years of age, adolescents and young adults; however, anyone can develop the infection.