Immunisation & Vaccine Preventable Diseases

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Immunisation and Vaccines

Meningococcal Disease

General Information | Surveillance & Epidemiology | Vaccination


Meningococcal disease is an invasive infection of Neisseria meningitidis in blood, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or other normally sterile site. Meningococcal disease cases overwhelmingly present with meningitis (meningitis can be caused by a variety of viruses or bacteria, of which N. meningitidis is one), an inflammation of the meninges, septicaemia (blood poisoning), or a combination of both.

Although approximately 10% of the population are estimated to carry N. meningitidis in the nasopharynx, the vast majority remain asymptomatic. Invasive cases acquire their infection from asymptomatic carriers following the release of respiratory droplets. Meningococcal disease is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in children and young people. N. meningitidis is classified according to its outer membrane characteristics in a process known as serogrouping. There are a number of different serogroups, the most common of which in Scotland and the UK is serogroup B followed by serogroup W. Cases of Y and C disease are also reported.

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Health Protection Management of Meningococcal disease

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