When someone has meningococcal meningitis, the protective membranes covering their brain and spinal cord, known as the meninges, become infected and swell. This is characterized by a sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. It is often accompanied by other symptoms.
In a review of 493 episodes of bacterial meningitis in adults, the overall case-fatality rate was 25%. In another study, patients with meningococcal meningitis had a case-fatality rate of 7.5%. Some people carry these bacteria in the back of their nose and throat with no signs or symptoms of disease.
Many patients need resuscitation when they get to hospital: oxygen is given and one or more intravenous lines put in to deliver medicines and resuscitation fluids. Patients with septicaemia may need large amounts of resuscitation fluid to bring their blood volume back to normal. Patients with meningitis may be given steroids to reduce inflammation and other medicines to lower pressure around the brain.
Major research on disease:
Clinical recognition of meningococcal disease in children and adolescents.Most patients are treated on a regular hospital ward, but the sickest patients will need intensive care treatment: about a quarter of children with meningococcal disease need treatment on a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).