Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but serious infection. It causes the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed.Meningococcal meningitis can be fatal or cause great harm without prompt treatment; as many as one out of five people who contract the infection have serious complications.
Meningococcal bacteria may cause infection in a part of the body -- the skin, gastrointestinal tract, or respiratory tract, for instance. For unknown reasons, the bacteria may then spread through the bloodstream to the nervous system. When it gets there, it causes meningococcal meningitis. Bacteria can also enter the nervous system directly after severe head trauma, surgery, or infection.
Meningococcal disease can be treated with a number of effective antibiotics. Even with antibiotic treatment, 10 to 15 out of 100 people infected with meningococcal disease will die. About 11 to 19 out of every 100 survivors will have long-term disabilities, such as loss of limb(s), deafness, nervous system problems, or brain damage.
Major research on disease:
Vaccine shortage threatens spread of meningitis. Antibiotic treatment should reduce the risk of dying, but sometimes the infection has caused too much damage to the body for antibiotics to prevent death or serious long-term problems.It is important that treatment be started as soon as possible. If meningococcal disease is suspected, antibiotics are given right away.