Meningococcal disease

Factsheets and Metadata

Factsheet: Meningococcal disease notifications (0–14 years) (August 2022) View interactive report Download report PDF
Metadata: Meningococcal disease notifications Download report PDF

Household crowding and second-hand smoke exposure increase the risk of meningococcal disease

Meningococcal disease is a serious infection, which can cause meningitis (an infection of membranes that covers the brain), septicaemia (blood poisoning), and even death. Household crowding increases the risk of meningococcal disease, particularly in those aged 0–16 years [1]. Second-hand smoke exposure is also associated with an increased risk of meningococcal disease in children [2,3].


The COVID-19 pandemic may have impacted meningococcal disease spread

In March 2020, the New Zealand Government pursued an elimination strategy for COVID-19. New Zealand moved to Alert Level 4 (Lockdown) on 25 March 2020, along with temporary border closures, quarantine requirements, stay-at-home lockdown orders and strict public health measures. These control measures may have limited the transmission of meningococcal disease over the course of 2020 in New Zealand and overseas [4].


Meningococcal disease notifications reached a new low in 2020  

Meningococcal disease notifications among children aged 0–14 years has substantially dropped from 67 notifications (7.0 per 100,000) in 2019 to 16 notifications (1.6 per 100,000) in 2020 (Figure 1) - the lowest in the last 20 years.

 Figure 1: Number of meningococcal disease notifications in children aged 0–14 years, 2001–20 


Information about this data

Meningococcal disease notifications

Source: EpiSurv notifications surveillance database, ESR.

Definition: Notifications of meningococcal disease in children aged 0–14 years. Notifications only cover those people who visited a GP or received hospital treatment, and therefore may underestimate the true rate of disease in the population.



  1. Baker MG, McDonald A, Zhang J, et al. 2013. Infectious diseases attributable to household crowding in New Zealand: A systematic review and burden of disease estimate. Wellington: He Kainga Oranga/ Housing and Health Research Programme, University of Otago.
  2. Murray RL, Britton J, Leonardi-Bee J. 2012. Second-hand smoke exposure and the risk of invasive meningococcal disease in children: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health 12:1062.
  3. Lee CC, Middaugh N, Howie SRC, et al. 2010. Association of second hand smoke exposure with pediatric invasive bacterial disease and bacterial carriage: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS Medicine 7(12): e1000374. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.100037
  4. Alderson MR, Arkwright PD, Bai X, et al. 2022. Surveillance and control of meningococcal disease in the COVID-19 era: A global meningococcal initiative review. Journal of Infection 84:289–96.
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