Think Meningitis

Talk to your doctor about vaccination before travelling

What is Meningococcal Meningitis?
Meningococcal meningitis is a serious infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, and is caused by several types of meningococcal bacteria.1,2
Who can be at risk of Meningococcal Meningitis?
The whole family can be at RISK OF MENINGOCOCCAL MENINGITIS – it’s contagious. ADULTS especially travellers in areas of high infection are particularly at risk, together with infants, young children and adolescents.1
Think Meningitis
How can Meningococcal Meningitis affect travellers?
Although infections in travellers can occur in healthy persons without any apparent risk factors,3 there are certain factors which have been identified as affecting a traveller’s risk of contracting the disease.3,4

These are:
duration of travel (increasing risk with increasing time spent travelling)
social behavior while at destination (e.g. travelling or living in close proximity to local population)
vaccination status

The disease is spread through prolonged close contact, especially in crowded conditions1,2 such as buses, air travel, street markets, festivals, club and sports events.
Crowded conditions that may increase the risk of Meningococcal Meningitis transmission
Aircrafts / Buses / Trains / Cruise Ships
Airports / Train Stations
Cities / Museums / Markets
Concerts / Sports events / Festivals
What are the symptoms of Meningococcal Meningitis?
Common symptoms can include:1,2,5 fever, vomiting, headache, neck stiffness, light sensitivity, lethargy and a blotchy red rash that does not fade when you press a glass against it.
The disease can progress RAPIDLY, but its symptoms are commonly seen in many other conditions, meaning it can be EASILY MISDIAGNOSED in the beginning. However, if you suspect meningitis, seek help immediately.1,6
What are the potential consequences of Meningococcal Meningitis for travellers?
It can develop very quickly and become LIFE-THREATENING WITHIN 24-48 HOURS1
10% OF PEOPLE DIE even with appropriate treatment1
10-20% OF SURVIVORS may require an AMPUTATION, or have to live with BRAIN DAMAGE, HEARING LOSS or a LEARNING DISABILITY1,7
Travellers may visit remote areas which have limited or delayed access to adequate healthcare facilities and antibiotics. Because the impact of meningococcal disease can be devastating due to its sudden onset and rapid course, the potential for fatal or disabling consequences may be increased for these travellers.3
Travellers who are carriers may spread the infection to others (including their family members, work colleagues and close contacts) once they return home.3
How is Meningococcal Meningitis treated?
Meningococcal meningitis is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY that needs urgent hospital treatment.1,2
The patient requires antibiotic treatment and close contacts require preventive antibiotics.2
How can Meningococcal Meningitis be prevented?
VACCINATIONS are available against some forms of meningococcal meningitis.1
What’s next?
Talk to your doctor for more information on how to protect yourself and your family against meningococcal meningitis before travelling.
  1. World Health Organization. Meningococcal vaccines: WHO position paper, November 2011. Weekly Epidemiological Record. No. 47, 2011;86:521–40.
  2. World Health Organization.Meningococcal meningitis, fact sheet No141, November 2012. Available at: (Last accessed October 2017).
  3. Steffen R. The risk of meningococcal disease in travelers and current recommendations for prevention. J Travel Med 2010;17:9–17
  4. Cohn A, Jackson M. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Travelers’ Health - Yellow Book. Meningococcal disease. (Last accessed October 2017).
  5. Stephens DS, et al. Lancet 2007;369:2196–210
  6. Rosenstein NA, Perkins BA, Stephens DS et al. N Engl J Med 2001;344:1378–88.
  7. NHS Choices – Meningitis Complications. Available at: . (Last accessed October 2017)