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How is meningococcal disease spread?

Page last updated 19 January 2022

Meningococcal bacteria live naturally in the back of the nose and throat of healthy adults and children, and can be quite difficult to spread. 

Generally, it takes person-to-person contact to spread these bacteria. The bacteria can be passed from one person to another through respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit). For example, prolonged household contact (living in the same house) or intimate contact such as kissing.

Meningococcal bacteria are found only in humans and cannot live more than a few seconds outside of the body. About 10% of people  become carriers of the bacteria without causing symptoms or disease, but they can still pass the bacteria on to others. 

Sources & Citations

2. Better Health. Victoria State Government. Meningococcal disease. Available at: (accessed December 2021).


MAT-AU2102477  Date of preparation January 2022