Meningococcal disease occurs as a result of a systemic bacterial infection by Neisseria meningitidis. Meningococci are gram-negative diplococci, divided into antigenically distinct capsular groups. There are to date 12 identified capsular groups, A, B, C, E, H, I, K, L, W, X, Y, and Z, of which groups B, C, W and Y were historically the most common in the UK.

Meningococci colonise the nasopharynx of humans and are frequently harmless commensals. Between 5 and 11% of adults and up to 25% of adolescents carry the bacteria without any signs or symptoms of the disease.

Meningococcal infection most commonly presents as either meningitis or septicaemia, or a combination of both. Less commonly, individuals may present with pneumonia, myocarditis, endocarditis, pericarditis, arthritis, conjunctivitis, urethritis, pharyngitis and cervicitis.

There is a vaccine available against Group A, C, W135, Y and B (multicomponent protein vaccine - MenB). Meningococci are transmitted between people through nasopharyngeal secretions either by the airborne route by coughing and sneezing, or by kissing. There is no reservoir other than humans and the organism quickly dies outside the host.



The purpose of the policy is to ensure early recognition of cases with prompt treatment of patients and contacts.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: The Infection Control Team
Ratified by: Clinical Governance Committee
Date Ratified: July 2017
Date Issued: August 2019
Review Date: July 2020
Target Audience: All staff
Contact name: The Infection Control Team


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