The disease is caused by bacteria, not by a virus.
It's passed on via the saliva, by activities such as sneezing,
coughing and intimate kissing, and sharing food or drink.
Places where children or young adults are in close contact
can increase the risk.
Nightclubs have a risky combination of crowding, smoking,
kissing, sharing drinks and shouting above the noise.
disease is caused by bacteria (not by a virus), and transmitted
via saliva. Meningococcal bacteria can live harmlessly in
our throat and nose. Around 20% percent of people will be
carrying these bacteria at any one time without ever becoming
ill (healthy carriers). In fact, all of us will
carry them at some stage in our lives.
bacteria are spread by activities such as sneezing, coughing,
intimate kissing, and sharing food or drinks. Environments
where people are in close contact, such as day-care centres,
school camps, parties and nightclubs, make it easier for the
bacteria to spread. At nightclubs, there's a risky combination
of crowding, smoking, kissing, sharing drinks and shouting
above the noise, which can disperse tiny droplets into the
air that can be breathed in by someone close by.
the bacteria only live for a short time outside the body
and even if you them up, it doesnt mean youll
become ill. The danger only occurs if you pick up a strain
youre not immunised against, or dont have any
natural immunity to - or if your immune system has for
some reason become weakened and cannot cope.
disease can strike both children and adults anywhere,
at any time. But those most at risk are:
Babies and children up to the age of 5 years
this group accounts for two thirds of cases (due to
their less mature immune system and tendency to put things
in their mouth and share food, drink and toys).
Teenagers and young adults from 15 to 25 years
primarily because of the socially interactive lifestyle
they lead, which is more likely to involve intimate activities
such as kissing and sharing drinks.
Smoking and passive smoking
can increase the risk of infection.
Winter and early spring
are higher risk times, because the many viruses around
can weaken the bodys natural immune system. There's
also the risk of catching a virus first, followed a few days
later by a meningococcal infection, making the illness much
harder to identify.