A common outcome of meningococcus infection is meningitis. When caused by Neisseria meningitidis, it is known as meningococcal meningitis or bacterial meningitis.Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness that is caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus.
When Neisseria meningitidis bacteria enter the bloodstream and multiply, they damage the walls of the blood vessels and cause bleeding into the skin and organs. Symptoms may include: Fever Fatigue Vomiting Cold hands and feet Cold chills Severe aches or pain in the muscles, joints, chest or abdomen Rapid breathing Diarrhea A dark purple rash, in later stages.
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%.According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 15% of those who survive are left with disabilities that include deafness, brain damage, and neurological problems.
Treatment may begin immediately if signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease are clear enough. If what is wrong is not clear, the patient may be kept under observation at first. Along with a physical examination, blood will be taken for tests and the doctor may do a lumbar puncture. Lumbar puncture is important to confirm the diagnosis of meningitis, and to show which germ is causing the illness.
Major research on disease:
Bench-to-bedside review: genetic influences on meningococcal disease.If a patient with meningitis is very severely ill, it might not be safe to do a lumbar puncture right away, so this may be postponed. Having the diagnosis confirmed can be helpful afterwards, for example when seeking long-term medical advice and follow-up care.