Meningococcal Disease (Neisseria meningitidis)

Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) is caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. Most IMD cases are caused by 5 types of the meningococcal bacteria: A, B, C, Y and W. It is a rare, but very serious bacterial illness.


January 2024 Update

A cluster of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) cases has been identified in Manitoba since December 21, 2023. This cluster includes both adults and children. Public health investigations are ongoing. At this time, there are no known links between cases. Typically, about six cases are reported annually. Public health follows up with all close contacts of cases and offers antibiotics as well as immunization if the IMD case is caused by a vaccine-preventable strain.

Confirmed Cases of IMD in Manitoba (December 21, 2023 - July 19, 2024)

Serogroup Number of Cases
B 1
W-135 20
Y 0
C 0
A 0
Unknown 2
Total 23
Fatalities 1

Data updated July 19, 2024. Data will be updated weekly, on Fridays



Meningococcal Vaccine Program Update (updated February 2024)

Effective March 1, 2024, Manitoba is updating its recommended meningococcal vaccine for infants at 12 months of age from the Men-C-C vaccine to a Men-C-ACYW vaccine to protect against the meningococcal bacteria types A, C, Y and W.

Additionally, there will be a catch-up campaign for children born between January 1, 2020, and February 28, 2023. If a child born within this cohort has received a dose of a Men-C-C vaccine, a dose of Men-C-ACYW should be offered if it has been at least 4 weeks since the dose of Men-C-C vaccine.

Children in grade 6 will continue to be routinely offered a Men-C-ACYW vaccine as part of the School Immunization Program.

For further information refer to the Manitoba Immunization Program- Eligibility Criteria for Publicly Funded Vaccines: www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/cdc/vaccineeligibility.html


Vaccine Booking Information

If your child is eligible for the meningococcal vaccine you can book an appointment directly with your child’s health care provider or by accessing a clinic provided by your local public health office. Note: Pharmacists will not be providing the meningococcal vaccine.

ONLINE - PUBLIC HEALTH Appointment Clinics only
To find a public health clinic in your region, you can create an account on Manitoba Vaccination Services at https://patient.petal-health.com/login?groupId=6032 and follow the prompts to book the vaccine appointment online.

BY PHONE
If you need assistance with booking an online appointment for a public health clinic or prefer to book by phone, you can call 1 844 MAN VACC (1 844 626 8222) toll-free Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Provincial Public Health Offices
You can also contact your local public health office directly if there are no public health clinics available for booking online: https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/offices.html


Symptoms

Many people with the meningococcal bacteria do not become sick but can still spread the disease to others. For those that become sick, symptoms of the disease can develop within two to 10 days of exposure to the bacteria. In the early stages, meningococcal disease can have similar symptoms of other respiratory viral infections (e.g., COVID-19, influenza). It can also occur at the same time or after these viral infections.

Meningococcal disease can also progress very rapidly. Individuals who develop the following symptoms should seek urgent medical care immediately:

  • high fever,
  • severe headache,
  • drowsiness,
  • stiff neck,
  • sensitivity to light,
  • vomiting and/or diarrhea,
  • severe aches or pains,
  • dark purple rash
  • loss of consciousness

As the disease progresses it can also cause shock (low blood pressure) and damage to many organs in the body which can lead to death.


Causes

Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) is caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. About 1 in 10 people have these bacteria that live in the lining of their nose or throat. Many people may not develop symptoms of the disease; but can still spread the disease to others as a “carrier”.

The meningococcal bacteria are spread though person to person contact by coughing, sneezing, kissing or by sharing personal items such as water bottles or food. It generally takes close or lengthy contact with an infected person to get the disease. Those at increased risk include household contacts, roommates, children in daycares and those that would have direct contact with the infected person’s saliva or spit (e.g., kissing).


Treatment

There are antibiotics available to treat meningococcal disease and it is important to start them immediately. Depending on the severity of the infection, other treatments may be required, including breathing support, surgery to remove dead tissue, and wound care for damaged skin. Even with prompt medical treatment, 20% can suffer from permanent brain damage, loss of limbs (e.g., fingers, arms, legs) and/or neurologic disabilities including hearing loss, seizures, paralysis, or developmental delays. Meningococcal infections are fatal in 10% of those infected.


Prevention

Vaccines can prevent IMD caused by 5 types of the meningococcal bacteria: A, B, C, Y and W. It is important for parents and caregivers to ensure their children are up to date on their routine immunizations because these include vaccines which protects against meningococcal disease. Manitoba offers meningococcal vaccines through Manitoba’s Recommended Routine Immunization Schedule at 12 months of age and the School Immunization Program in grade 6. Meningococcal vaccines are also offered free-of-charge to those with certain high-risk medical conditions. For further information on meningococcal vaccines available in Manitoba and eligibility refer to Manitoba’s Eligibility Criteria for Publicly Funded Immunizations at www.manitoba.ca/health/publichealth/cdc/vaccineeligibility.html

Other preventive steps include practicing good hand hygiene, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and avoiding sharing of personal items such as water bottles, lipstick, or cigarettes.

It is important to see your doctor if you become ill after being in contact with someone diagnosed with a meningococcal infection. If you test positive for meningococcal disease, public health will be notified and will ask for a list of your close contacts. These contacts will be offered an antibiotic to be taken as soon as possible to prevent them from becoming ill. Immunizations will also be offered to these close contacts if the meningococcal disease is caused by a vaccine-preventable strain.


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