Invasive meningococcal disease

This page contains information regarding meningococcal disease for the public and health professionals.

Page last updated: 20 March 2020

Invasive meningococcal disease

Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) is an uncommon but very serious infection that occurs when the meningococcal bacteria ‘invades’ the body from the throat or nose. It usually appears as meningitis or sepsis. You can find more information on Meningococcal disease, including what symptoms to look out for, on the Meningococcal disease: Information for the public website.

Invasive meningococcal disease in Australia

Overall, the national incidence of IMD in Australia is low. From 2003 to 2013, there was a decrease in the number of IMD notifications reported in Australia, following the introduction of the meningococcal C (MenC) vaccine onto the National Immunisation Program (NIP) in 2003. However, the rate of IMD increased from 2013 to 2017 (1.5 notifications per 100,000) before declining in 2018 (1.1 notifications per 100,000). This increase in notifications was driven predominantly by serogroup W (Figure 1).

There are multiple types of meningococcal disease which are called serogroups. Four serogroups of meningococcal bacteria (B, C, W, and Y) account for most cases of IMD in Australia. Figure 1 shows IMD notifications by serogroup for the period 2002 to 30 June 2019, serogroup W became more common from 2015 before declining in 2018.

Figure 1. Annual cases and rate of IMD, Australia, 1 January 2002 to 30 June 2019 by serogroup

Figure 1. Annual cases and annual rate of IMD, Australia, 1 January 2002 to 30 June 2019 by serogroup

*NG includes where meningococcal isolates could not be identified (‘not groupable’), other isolates not grouped and where serogroup was not known.

Immunisation against invasive meningococcal disease

The four most common meningococcal types in Australia are B, C, W and Y. There are vaccines available to protect against these types in Australia, which also cover meningococcal A.

Information on meningococcal vaccination and on who is eligible for free vaccine through the NIP can be found meningococcal immunisation service webpage.

Children and adolescents not eligible for meningococcal vaccines through the NIP may be able to receive free vaccines through state-funded programs. Contact your state or territory health department for details.

Further details of meningococcal immunisation, including vaccine recommendations can be found in the Australian Immunisation Handbook Meningococcal disease chapter.

Invasive Meningococcal Disease Reports

The reports document trends in notified cases of IMD occurring in Australia. Reports for Invasive Meningococcal Disease began in quarter 2 of 2018.

1 January to 30 June 2019

1 October to 31 December 2018

1 July to 30 September 2018

1 April to 30 June 2018

1 January to 31 March 2018

Consolidated Invasive Meningococcal W Disease National Surveillance Reports

1 January to 31 December 2017

Further information