Meningococcal disease is a life-threatening illness. It is caused by bacteria that infect the blood, brain, and spinal cord. It is one of the most serious causes of meningitis.Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but serious infection. It causes the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed.
Meningococcal bacteria are difficult to spread. They are only passed from person to person by regular, close, prolonged household and intimate contact with infected secretions from the back of the nose and throat. Some research shows that low levels of salivary contact are unlikely to transmit meningococcal bacteria. In fact, saliva has been shown to slow the growth of the bacteria.
The infection can develop very quickly. If infection is diagnosed early enough and the right antibiotics are given quickly, most people make a complete recovery. Even with antibiotic treatment, invasive meningococcal disease causes death in about five to 10 per cent of cases.
Direct examination of the CSF or skin lesion biopsy specimen using gram staining reveals gram-negative diplococci both inside and outside of polymorphonuclear cells. Organisms may show considerable size variation and tend to resist decolorisation. Heavily capsulated strains may have distinct pink halo around the cells. Quantitation of pus cells and organisms should be reported as this has value in prognostic scoring.
Major research on disease:
Recent Outbreaks of Meningococcal Disease among Men Who Have Sex with Men.Meningococcus bacteria are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit (e.g., by living in close quarters, kissing). Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics, but quick medical attention is extremely important.