The bacteria that cause Meningococcal disease are spread in saliva and mucous from the mouth and nose of an infected person. They live only for a few minutes outside the body. Good hygiene provides effective protection against many infections.
- Cover one's mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Dispose of used tissues
- Wash hands
- Avoid sharing anything that comes in contact with the mouth
The following information is intended to help people assess their own risk when they know of a person who has meningococcal disease.
Children tend to put hands and objects in their mouths and nose, increasing the risk of transmission. In a childcare setting those at greater risk are staff and children who have come into close contact with an infected person. Close contacts include
- Children who have shared toys, eating utensils, food, drink or other items often put in their mouths
- Children or staff who have kissed the infected individual
- Staff who have washed the face or wiped the nose of the infected individual
- In a home childcare setting all household members
Only close contacts of the infected person require preventive treatment. Depending on the circumstances, public health officials may recommend that close contacts receive antibiotics, vaccine or both to prevent additional cases of meningococcal disease. Contacts of contacts - family members or children or staff, for instance - are not considered to be close contacts.
For more information about preventive treatment of close contacts, click here.
Index of Meningococcal Disease in Different Settings: