Recent research into meningococcal disease is challenging beliefs about the length of time the bacteria is infectious.
The study by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research has found the bacteria can survive for more than a week outside the body.
The author of the research, Claire Swain, says the general belief is that the bacteria can't survive outside of the human body.
However, she says her research has found some strains lasted up to nine days out in the open once dried on things like bottles and glasses.
Dr Swain says some bacteria lasted longer during winter than in summer, which is typical of when cases of the disease are most common.
The Ministry of Health says 13 people died of meningococcal disease in 2011 and it records about 100 cases every year.