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Neisseria Meningitidis

Topic Overview

Meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis is sometimes referred to as meningococcal disease.

Some people have Neisseria meningitidis in their throats without getting sick. But they can pass it to another person, who may get sick.

Neisseria meningitidis also can cause outbreaks of meningitis. Outbreaks are most common outside North America.

If you are planning foreign travel, particularly to sub-Saharan Africa, talk with a doctor about getting the Neisseria meningitidis vaccine. Small outbreaks occur every year in Canada.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that healthy children 2 months to 11 years of age, adolescents, and young adults get a meningococcal conjugate shot. The vaccine protects against certain strains of Neisseria meningitidis. Another type of meningococcal vaccine is recommended for children and adults who may have a higher-than-normal risk, such as travellers to countries known to have outbreaks of meningitis, people without a spleen, and those who have HIV.footnote 1

People who have contact with someone with a Neisseria meningitidis infection may need to take a course of antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading.

Related Information



  1. Public Health Agency of Canada (2015). Meningococcal vaccine. Canadian Immunization Guide. Accessed January 8, 2016.


Current as of: February 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
W. David Colby IV MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease

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