Behind it are bacteria of the species Neisseria meningitidis. Infection can lead to inflammation of the meninges (menigococcal meningitis) or bacterial blood poisoning (meningococcal sepsis). Meningococci are transmitted via droplet infection. This means that you can infect them mainly through coughing or sneezing and through direct close contact, for example when kissing.
There are several subgroups of meningococcal bacteria; in Germany, serogroup B is the most common. Serogroup W is predominant in the meningitis belt in Africa and serogroup C in South America.
Meningococcal diseases must be treated in hospital as they are almost always severe and often lead to complications. Paralysis of the arms or legs, cranial nerve paralysis, seizures and damage to the inner ear, even deafness, are possible.
Vaccination may be necessary in special travel circumstances to high-risk countries and at certain times of the year (usually in the dry season). Special travel circumstances include, for example, assignments as disaster relief workers or medical personnel, long-term stays, exchange students, adventure/backpacking trips or pilgrimages. The main risk area is the extended, so-called meningitis belt in Africa.
There are three approved vaccines for meningococcal vaccination. All vaccines are dead vaccines and must be administered into the muscle.
The vaccine against serogroup ACWY must be vaccinated once before travel. A booster is recommended after 10 years.
The vaccinations against serogroup B must be administered twice, depending on the vaccine at intervals of 1 or 6 months.
Side effects reported include loss of appetite, irritability, headache, stomach and intestinal discomfort, and fatigue.
To find out which vaccinations are useful for your planned trip, simply make an appointment for a travel medicine consultation at one of our Avi Medical practices and discuss with our medical team. The team will tell you what to look out for so that you can travel safely and relaxed on your next trip.