Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics, but treatment must begin early to be effective. Even if treatment is started as soon as possible, it might not prevent death or serious long-term complications such as hearing loss, brain damage, kidney disease or limb amputations. Unfortunately, it is not easy for healthcare professionals to identify and diagnose the infection in its early stages.

When someone is diagnosed with meningococcal disease, close contacts of that person are given antibiotics as a preventive measure. Close contacts usually include people living in the same household or anyone who comes into direct contact with a patient’s saliva such as a boyfriend or girlfriend.