Meningococcal disease

Surveillance Reports and Metadata

Surveillance Report: Meningococcal disease notifications (0–14 years) (May 2024) 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 show a slight increase in 2021

Meningococcal disease notifications among children aged 0–14 years have slightly increased from 16 notifications (1.6 per 100,000) in 2020 to 25 notifications (2.6 per 100,000). While this increase is small, the overall rate remains relatively low compared to the years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Figure 1: Number of meningococcal disease notifications in children aged 0–14 years, 2001–2021 


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.

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