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Knowing the signs of meningococcal disease: checklist

(NC) Meningococcal disease is a sudden, aggressive illness that manifests as bacterial meningitis. This is a serious yet uncommon disease that can affect anyone at any time. Five main strains of bacterial meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis are A, B, C, W and Y. In Canada, strain B, also known as MenB is the most common type of meningococcal disease and is responsible for 80 per cent of cases in infants under one year of age and 62 per cent of the cases in adolescents aged 15 to 19. Be aware and know the signs and symptoms to recognize meningococcal disease early.

The symptoms of meningococcal disease include:

Sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck

Nausea and vomiting

Increased sensitivity to light

Rapid breathing


Dark purple rash appears in the later stage

Prevention through vaccination is considered the best protection against this aggressive disease. A vaccine called Bexsero, to help protect from Men B is now available in Canada. Prior to Bexsero, vaccines were available to help protect only against A, C, W and Y strains.

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