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      Meningococcal disease

      Latest update: - Authors: Ula Maniewski, Mieke Croughs

      Meningococcal meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain that is caused by a meningococcal bacterium. There are various types of meningococci, of which the most common strains are A, B, C, X, Y and W135. In Belgium, the meningococci ACWY vaccine is included in the basic vaccination schedule. This vaccine does not offer any protection against the other types.

      Typical symptoms of meningitis include:

      • high fever
      • confusion
      • headache
      • stiff neck
      • vomiting

      The disease can be treated with antibiotics, but a meningococcal infection can become fatal very quickly.

      Infection occurs when you breathe in droplets that are released when an infected person speaks or sneezes or through direct contact, for example kissing.

      The risk of a meningococcal infection when travelling is very low.  

      Risk areas

      Meningococcal meningitis occurs all over the world.

      The serotypes B and C are most common in Western countries, but an increase in serotypes W and Y has recently been confirmed in some European countries.

      In the Meningitis Belt in Sub-Saharan Africa, outbreaks occur each year during the dry season. This was mainly serotype A in the past, but in recent years it has more often been serotypes C and W. 

      View the map



      Vaccination is recommended if you are going to be staying in the Meningitis Belt from:

      •  December to June:  
        • And you will be in close contact with the local population.  
        • Or if you will be staying there for more than four weeks. 
        • Or you have a condition affecting the spleen or have a poorly functioning spleen.  
      • Travelling to an area where there is an outbreak.

      Vaccination is compulsory for everyone over the age of two years who is doing the hadj and advised for those doing the Umrah in Mecca. 

      The meningitis ACW135Y vaccine (Nimenrix® or Menveo®) consists of 1 injection. The vaccine offers protection from 10 days after vaccination and this lasts for at least 5 years. For people from 12 years of age who have been vaccinated with Nimenrix®, the duration of protection is at least 10 years.
      Different schedules apply for young 

      In case of symptoms

      Seek medical advice if you suffer any symptoms.

      Additional information for doctors

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