Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD)

  • IMD is a rare but serious infection caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitis.
  • The bacteria enter the body through the nose and throat and may cause infection of the brain and spinal cord or the blood.
  • When the bacteria enter the lining of the brain and spinal cord it is called meningitis.
  • When the bacteria enter the blood it is called meningococcemia.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Symptoms include fever, severe headache, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, confusion, coma and photophobia (sensitivity to bright light).
  • A body rash of tiny red-purple spots or bruises may appear.
  • A person becomes dangerously ill very quickly. Seek immediate medical care.


The bacteria may be found in the nose and throats of people who have no symptoms and never become ill.

Spread of the bacteria requires close and direct contact with saliva such as kissing or sharing items like food and drinks, toothbrushes, cigarettes, toys and musical instruments with mouthpieces.

Treatment & Prevention

  • Antibiotics are usually recommended for household and other close contacts of people with IMD
  • People (such as classmates or coworkers) who have had casual contact with an infected person usually do not need preventive antibiotics.
  • Immunization is usually recommended for close contacts if the infection is caused by a bacteria strain that can be prevented by a vaccine (A, C, Y, W-135).
  • Watch for signs and symptoms of meningitis.
  • If you think you or your child has meningitis, see a doctor IMMEDIATELY.
  • Teach your child to cover his/her mouth when coughing and not share anything that has been in his/her mouth.
  • There are vaccines to prevent invasive meningococcal disease called Men-C and Men-C-ACYW-135. Check your child’s immunization record to see if they have been vaccinated.

IMD is a reportable disease and must be reported to the Local Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.