Meningococcal disease

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Meningococcal disease, or Meningococcal meningitis, is an acute bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis (also known as meningococcus) that causes inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

This disease is hard to identify as it can appear in several different forms, depending on which part of the body the bacteria invade. There can be meningitis or septicaemia, or a combination of both.

Note: Meningitis is not the same as meningococcal disease. There are many different types of meningitis.

Most cases of meningococcal meningitis occur in children. Early recognition and treatment of anyone exposed to meningococcus is extremely important to prevent serious illness or death.

Symptoms

  • Rash, pinpoint red spots (petechiae)
  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Severe malaise
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Mental status changes

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