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Meningococcal disease

Learn about meningococcal disease, who is at risk, and how it spreads.

About meningococcal disease

Meningococcal disease is an infection caused by bacteria. It can lead to a serious infection of the fluid and lining that cover the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or blood.

  • One out of 5 people with meningococcal disease have a serious infection that causes deafness, seizures, brain damage, or loss of an arm or leg.
  • One out of 10 people with meningococcal disease can die.

Who is most at risk?

You are most at risk of infection if you:

  • are age 4 years or younger, or ages 15 years to 19 years, or age 60 years and older
  • have health problems
  • live in a crowded home
  • travel to areas where there is a high risk of meningococcal disease
  • do certain work (such as some lab workers)

How it spreads

Meningococcal disease spreads through saliva (spit) through kissing or sharing food, toys, or water bottles with someone who has the disease.

Some people don’t have symptoms, but they can still spread the disease.

Current as of: June 30, 2023
Author: Provincial Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services
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