The risk of getting the disease is very low. Although meningococcal disease is infectious and can cause outbreaks, 97 out of every 100 cases are isolated, with no link to any other cases.
The bacteria that cause the disease are very common: at any time about one in ten of us has them in our noses and throats without ever knowing they are there, and for most of us this is harmless. We pass the bacteria between each other by close contact (e.g. coughing, sneezing, kissing).
Usually we have to be in very close or regular contact with someone for the bacteria to pass between us. Even when this happens, most of us will not become ill because we have natural immunity.
The bacteria cannot live longer than a few moments outside the human body, so they are not carried on things like clothes and bedding, toys or dishes.
More about risk factors