Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. This bacterium has at least 13 different subtypes (serogroups). Five of these serogroups, A, B, C, Y, and W, cause almost all invasive disease.Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but serious infection. It causes the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed.
Skin haemorrhages are the hallmark of invasive meningococcal disease. Microscopically, these lesions are characterized by endothelial damage and haemorrhages and microthrombi in small vessels, consistent with a generalized Sanarelli-Shwartzman reaction. The lesions are a reflection of the endotoxin- and cytokine-primed vasculitis that is mediated by the upregulation of adhesion molecules.
In 1996, the largest outbreak ever reported occurred in the meningitis belt; the total number of cases reported to the World Health Organization (probably a substantial underestimate) was 152,813, with 15,783 deaths. Following large outbreaks in 1995-96, in 1997, the International Coordinating Group (ICG) for Vaccine Provision for Epidemic Meningitis Control was established.
A difficulty is that meningococcal infection can develop very quickly and can mimic other illnesses when symptoms first begin. Treatment may be delayed if the cause of early symptoms is not clear at first. In some cases a person can be well in the morning, develop flu-like symptoms by the afternoon and be critically ill or dead by the evening.
Major research on disease:
The Health Effects of Passive Smoking: An Overview of Systematic Reviews Based on Observational Epidemiological Evidence.Main aims of ICG are to ensure rapid and equal access to vaccines, injection material and oily chloramphenicol and to ensure their adequate use when the stocks are limited.