Suspected Meningococcal Disease

Doses are oral and for adults unless otherwise stated. Visit the Health Products Regulatory Authority website for drug SPCs, dosage, contraindications, interactions, or IMF/BNF/BNFC/MIMS. See guidance on dosing in children for quick reference dosage/weight guide. Letters indicate strength of evidence range from A+ (systematic review) to D (informal opinion). Statins can interact with some antibiotics and increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis. Amiodarone and drugs which prolong the QT interval can interact with many antibiotics. Many antibiotics increase the risk of bleeding with anticoagulants. Please refer to our Drug Interactions Table for further information.

Comments from Expert Advisory Committee

  • Transfer all patients to hospital immediately.
  • Administer benzylpenicillin prior to admission, unless history of anaphylaxis, B- NOT allergy. Ideally IV but IM if a vein cannot be found.
  • GPs or advanced paramedics are not expected to carry an alternative antibiotic to benzylpenicillin. However, if available, a third generation cephalosporin (ceftriaxone or cefotaxime) can be used and is an acceptable alternative to benzylpenicillin for the empirical treatment of suspected meningococcal disease prior to transfer to hospital.
  • Prevention of secondary case of meningitis: Only prescribe following advice from Public Health Doctor.


Treatment Dose
IV or IM benzylpenicillin Adults and children
10 yr and over: 1200 mg
Children 1 - 9 yr: 600 mg
Children <1 yr: 300 mg
IV or IM ceftriaxone Adults and children (all ages) 80 mg/kg/dose, max 2g
IV or IM cefotaxime Adults and children (all ages) 50 mg/kg/dose, max 2g


See guidance on dosing in children for quick reference dosage/weight guide.

Patient Information

The HSE Health A-Z website provides patient information on many hundreds of conditions and treatments.

We recommend patients use the website developed by HSE/ICGP/IPU partnership for tips on how to get better from common infections without using antibiotics, what you can do for yourself or a loved one and when to seek help.

Reviewed Sept 2018

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