Meningococcal disease is spread by contact with spit, phlegm, or other fluids from the nose or mouth of someone who has the disease. Someone who has had close contact with an infected person can become infected, but taking the correct antibiotic right away can prevent illness.
Groups B and C were the usual causes of meningococcal infection in the UK. Until 1999, about half the cases were due to group B and just under half due to group C. However, cases of group C are now rare in the UK due to immunisation against group C which was introduced in 1999.
Early recognition of meningococcal infection is critical as meningococcemia spreads so quickly that within hours of symptoms appearing, a patient may rapidly die. Patients may initially just have a rash and not be particularly unwell. Meningococcemia can kill more rapidly than any other infectious disease. Many patients are admitted to an intensive care unit. Penicillin is the drug of choice.
Major research on disease:
Vaccine Failure After Meningococcal C Conjugate Vaccine May Be Linked to Decline of Bactericidal Titers and Absence of Herd Immunity.Patients with either meningococcemia or meningococcal meningitis must be hospitalised and treatment with antibiotics and supportive care instituted immediately.