Ciprofloxacin (for meningococcal prophylaxis)

Easy-to-read medicine information about ciprofloxacin to stop the spread of meningococcal disease – what it is, how to take it safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Antibiotic
  • Cipflox®

What is ciprofloxacin?

Ciprofloxacin is an antibiotic. It kills meningococcal bacteria that may be in your nose or throat. Meningococcal bacteria is spread from person to person through little drops of saliva, for example, by speaking, coughing, sneezing and kissing. To stop the spread of meningococcal bacteria, ciprofloxacin is given as a single dose.

Meningococcal disease can lead to serious illnesses including meningitis (inflammation of the brain membranes) and septicaemia (blood poisoning). These illnesses can come on quickly over a few hours and can cause serious problems or even death. Read more about meningococcal disease

Why have you been given ciprofloxacin?

You have been given ciprofloxacin because within the past 7 days you have had close contact with a person who has meningococcal disease and ciprofloxacin will help to prevent its spread. As a contact of someone with meningococcal disease, you are at increased risk of getting the disease, but the risk is still quite low. The highest risk is for household contacts (1 in 300), followed by pre-school contacts (1 in 1500) and is even lower in other settings. 

Ciprofloxacin kills the meningococcal bacteria in your nose and throat, but it does not stop the disease if the bacteria have already spread beyond your nose and throat, so you still need to watch for any symptoms, and get medical help quickly. Read more about the symptoms of meningococcal disease


To stop the spread of meningococcal disease, for adults and children over 12 years, ciprofloxacin is given as a single dose of 500 milligrams. 

How to take ciprofloxacin?

  • Swallow your tablet with a glass of water.
  • You can take ciprofloxacin with or without food.
  • Do not drink milk or take indigestion remedies (antacids) or medicines with iron or zinc (such as multivitamin tablets) from two hours before to two hours after you have taken the dose. This is because these other medicines interfere with ciprofloxacin and stop it from working well. 

Precautions – before taking ciprofloxacin

Are you pregnant or breastfeeding? If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor before you start taking ciprofloxacin. Another antibiotic may be better for you.

If you have epilepsy or heart problems, let your doctor know before you take ciprofloxacin, another antibiotic may be better for you, especially if you are taking phenytoin.

If you are taking any other medicines, let your doctor know. Some medicines such as warfarin and clozapine may need to have their doses adjusted.

What about side effects?

Most people do not get any side effects with a single dose of ciprofloxacin, but like any medicine, it can have mild side effects for some people such as tummy upset. There are no special side effects to watch out for but contact your doctor straight away if you have signs of an allergic reaction, such as itching, swelling of the face and problems breathing.

Ciprofloxacin can interfere with other medicines that you are taking which can cause problems, so make sure that your doctor knows what medicines you are taking.


  1. Ciprofloxacin New Zealand Formulary
  2. Neisseria meningitidis invasive disease Communicable Disease Control Manual, New Zealand, 2012
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland & Dr Osman David Mansoor, Medical Officer of Health, Hawke’s Bay DHB Last reviewed: 16 Dec 2017