Meningococcal Meningitis (ACWY)

Meningococcal meningitis is an infection caused by a bacteria or virus, which affects the brain and spinal cord. There are different forms of meningitis - A, C, W, Y and B are the most common. Left untreated it has a very high fatality rate.

Symptoms

Sudden fever, intense headache, nausea, stiff neck, dislike of bright light. A non-blanching rash appears as the infection worsens.

How do you catch meningococcal meningitis?

Meningitis is spread by coughs, sneezes or contact with someone who has the infection. It usually occurs in epidemics and can affect any age group. It can spread quickly in large crowds or in communal living areas.

Incubation period

2 – 10 days

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is confirmed through testing blood or spinal fluid.

Prevention

Avoiding crowded places and close contact with local people where possible can reduce the risk of catching meningitis. The meningitis ACWY vaccination can be offered to people travelling to high risk areas and is given to certain age groups in the UK as part of the routine schedule. Meningitis B vaccine is also part of the UK childhood schedule (and available privately through MASTA).

Treatment

Meningitis infection caused by a bacteria needs to be treated with antibiotics urgently. Hospital care is needed. Without early treatment meningitis can be fatal within hours.