Meningococcal disease is a serious infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. In rare instances, it can become invasive and cause meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) or meningococcemia (an infection of the blood stream). Meningitis can be caused by multiple other infectious agents, as explained on the encephalitis/meningitis page.
The bacteria can be found in the nose and throat of healthy people (carriers) so it is always in the community. Someone with IMD can spread the germ before they become very sick through contact with saliva or nasal secretions (e.g. sharing eating utensils, water bottles, cigarettes).
Symptoms of IMD may include high fever, headache, stiff neck (unable to move up and down), nausea and vomiting, eyes may be sensitive to bright lights (photophobia), confusion, drowsiness. Sometimes a purplish skin rash will appear that is flat and smooth. Young children may show irritability, excessive crying, grunting, moaning or convulsions. It is important to see a doctor immediately if you have these symptoms. For more information, see the health unit’s fact sheet on meningococcal disease.
The following graph shows the number of IMD cases in Simcoe Muskoka between 2000 and 2015. There have been between zero and four cases of IMD every year in Simcoe Muskoka since 2000. In 2015, two cases of IMD were reported in Simcoe Muskoka.
The following graph shows the incidence rate of invasive meningococcal disease in Simcoe Muskoka and Ontario between 2000 and 2015. The Simcoe Muskoka rate is comparable to the Ontario rate and both rates remain low in this time period. In 2015, the Simcoe Muskoka rate was 0.4 cases per 100,000 population and the Ontario rate was 0.3 cases per 100,000 population.
There are many factors that influence how many cases are reported to the health unit, as explained on the Infectious Diseases page, although this disease is often quite severe and it is unlikely that many cases are missed.