What is Meningococcal B?

Meningococcal disease is a serious illness caused by a certain type of bacteria, which can lead to meningitis and infections of the blood.

It is a contagious disease and is spread through the exchange of respiratory secretions, such as kissing or coughing on someone.

With this particular disease, infection can develop very quickly. If the infection is caught early enough, and antibiotics are administered quickly enough, most people make a complete recovery.

Babies, teenagers and young adults are most at risk when it comes to meningococcal, and winter and early spring are high risk times, as this is the time when the body’s immune system is naturally weakened.

Whilst the meningococcal bacteria are dangerous, the bacteria itself cannot actually live outside the body for very long.

Although mostly everyone is a carrier at some point, carriers are most commonly young adults, particularly men and smokers.

The bacteria that causes meningococcal meningitis live in the back of the nose and the throat, and are carried by 10% to 25% of the population.

Good hygiene can help stem the spread of the disease. This includes not sharing food, glasses, water bottle, eating utensils or towels.

You should also enhance your immune system to fight against the bacteria. This can include eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and avoiding cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.

Signs and symptoms

Meningococcal disease is considered a medical emergency. There are a few different key symptoms. For more advice on symptoms, seek medical attention.

  • Fever, which may not go down with medication
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lack of energy
  • Tiredness or drowsiness
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability or agitation
  • A sore throat
  • Rashes of red or purple, pinprick spots, or larger bruises

You should seek urgent medical advice from your doctor or hospital if you are in any way concerned that you or someone you know is presenting any of these symptoms.

Meningococcal B

Meningococcal B is one of the most dangerous strains of the meningococcal disease.

Children aged five years old and younger, and infants less than 12 months, have the highest incidence of meningococcal disease caused by the meningococcal B serogroups.  It is also common in young adults.

It is recommended that people with poor functioning spleens, or those who have their spleen removed, should have the meningococcal B vaccine.

The Meningococcal B vaccine launched in Australia in March 2014, which is available with a private script from your GP.

The vacine is given in four doses, at the age of two, four, six and 12 months of age. For children older than 12 months, the vaccines are given in two doses, two months apart.

Possible side effects are a mild to moderate fever, as well as a sore arm.

The Bexsero vaccine is available at Padbury Pharmacy to be administered at your local doctor surgery.

Where to get help

  • Your GP
  • In an emergency, always call triple zero (000)
  • Emergency department of your nearest hospital
  • Local government immunisation service
  • National Immunisation Information Line. Tel. 1800 671 811