Meningococcal disease, which includes both meningococcal meningitis and meningococcal sepsis, can progress quickly.2,4,9 It can make an infant or teenager very sick and may even be life threatening.Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but serious infection. It causes the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed.
The cerebral capillary endothelium binds bacteria. Bound bacterium may undergo fimbrial phase variation in order to cross blood brain barrier. Bacteria may also gain access to subarachnoid space within host phagocytic cells.Once in the subarachnoid space, where the principal humoral and cellular host defense mechanisms are absent, there is uncontrolled proliferation of meningococci.
Meningeal infection, resulting from haematogenous spread, occurs in about 50 to 55% percent of patients and is similar to other forms of acute purulent meningitis. N. meningitidis can be isolated from the bloodstream in up to 75% of patients, but meningococcaemia, occurs in only 5 to 20% of patients.The early symptoms are determined by the sudden entry of meningococci in the bloodstream.
Major research on disease:
Epidemiological and Molecular Characterization of Invasive Meningococcal Disease in Russia.The characteristic haemorrhagic skin lesions develop only in 80% of the patients and become apparent only 12 to 18 hours after first disease symptoms. Neurological sequelae varying from sensorineural deafness, mental retardation, to concentration disturbances have been observed in 8 to 20% of survivors.