MeningitisMeningococcal Disease – It’s a killer.

New Zealand is in the grip of an epidemic, and has been since 1991. The epidemic is caused by a bacterium (a kind of germ) called Neisseria meningitidis or meningococcus.

In the last two years just over 1100 mostly young people in New Zealand have contracted the meningococcal disease and more than 40 have died – that’s an average of one person dying every two weeks. Since the beginning of the epidemic over 4750 people have fallen ill and over 200 have died.

A vaccine to stop the bacterium causing illness has recently been developed and it is undergoing trials to ensure it is safe and effective.