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Neisseria meningitidis

Neisseria meningitidis, also simply known as meningococcus is a gram-negative bacterium best known for its role in meningitis. It only infects humans, there is no animal reservoir. It is the only form of bacterial meningitis to cause epidemics. more...

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Clinical Presentations

Meningitis is the most well publicised condition. Whilst a non-specific illness initially, this can rapidly progress through fever, headache and neck stiffness to coma and death. The mortality is approximate 10% of cases. Suspicion of meningitis is a medical emergency and immediate medical assessment is recommended.

Septicaemia ("blood poisoning") has received much less public attention, but has been linked to infant deaths. Whilst there may be an absence of the classical meningitis symptoms, the presence of a non-blanchable purpuric rash is easily ignored by those not aware of its significance. Septicaemia carries an approximate 50% mortality rate over a few hours from initial onset. Anyone developing a rash that does not turn white ("non-blanching") if pressed with a glass is encouraged to attend a hospital casualty department as soon as possible.

Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome a massive, usually bilateral, hemorrhage into the adrenal glands caused by fulminant infection.

UK policy is that any General Practitioner doctor seeing a suspected case of meningococcus meningitis or septicaemia should give intravenous antibiotics (benzylpenicillin) whilst hospital admission is sought. The possible reduction in subsequent microbiological confirmation of infection, due to starting treatment before testing, is offset by the reduced mortality.

Not all cases of a purpura-like rash are due to septicaemia, but the other causes also need prompt investigation (eg ITP, a platelet disorder).


There are many strains of meningococcus, clinically the most important are A, B, C and W135:

  • A - occurs most often in sub-sahara Africa and vaccination is recommended prior to travel with the Men A&C vaccine.
  • B - is the most lethal form, comprising 40% of UK cases. The changing nature of the B group has prevented formation of a general B vaccine in the UK. However there has been developed the vaccine MeNZB against a specific strain of group B meningococcus, currently being used to control an epidemic in New Zealand.
  • C - caused approximately 60% of UK cases before the introduction of successful vaccination programme for infants. Previously the unconjugated C component of Men A&C was ineffective in those under 2 years. The development of a conjugated form (Men C conj) was needed to provoke infant immunity.
  • W135 - is particularly a problem for those undergoing annual pilgrimage to Mecca. It is a requirement of Saudi Arabia that all those intending to go on Hajj have a certificate of Men W135 vaccination.

Those with impaired immunity may be at particular risk of meningococcus, e.g. those with nephrotic syndrome or splenectomy. In asplenia (removed or non-functioning spleen), vaccination is performed according to protocols.


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Phase variation modulation and pathogenesis in Neisseria meningitidis : (Dissertation) $55.00 Molecular typing and population structure of Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae : (Dissertation) $55.00
Neisseria Meningitidis: A Medical Dictionary, Bibliography, And Annotated Research Guide To Internet References $55.06 AAFP Not Endorsing Meningococcal Vaccine.(Brief Article)(Statistical Data Included) : An article from: Family Practice News $5.95
Functional attributes of hemoglobin-heme uptake receptors: HmbR of Neisseria meningitidis and HemR of Yersinia enterocolitica : (Dissertation) $55.00 Pathogenic Neisseriae: Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium, Asilomar, California, 21-25 October 1984 $9.99
Meningococcal Disease: Methods and Protocols (Methods in Molecular Medicine) $97.50 Cluster of serogroup C meningococcal disease associated with attendance at a party. : An article from: Southern Medical Journal $5.95
Neisseria meningitidis endotoxin and capsule transmission by transplantation.(LETTERS) : An article from: Emerging Infectious Diseases $5.95 Hoof beats.(Brief Article)(Statistical Data Included) : An article from: Family Practice News $5.95

Neisseria meningitidis endotoxin and capsule transmission by transplantation
To the Editor: Donor organs for transplantation are in extremely short supply. The increased number of patients with advanced liver disease requiring ...
Neisseria meningitidis W135, Turkey
We describe the first case of Neisseria meningitidis W135 meningitis in Turkey. The strain was genotypically unrelated to the clone (W)ET-37, isolated ...
PorA variable regions of Neisseria meningitidis
Subtypes, defined by variation in the outer membrane protein PorA, are an integral part of the characterization scheme for Neisseria meningitidis. Identification ...
Risk factors for carriage of Neisseria meningitidis during an outbreak in Wales
Neisseria meningitidis B15P1.16 and risk factors for its carriage were studied during a secondary school outbreak in Wales in 1996. Risk factors for carriage ...
Absence of Neisseria meningitidis W-135 electrophoretic type 37 during the Hajj, 2002 - Dispatches
We document the absence of carriage of Neisseria meningitidis W-135 of the sequence type 11 in returning pilgrims after the Hajj 2002. This finding contrasts with the 15% carriage rate we previousl
Persistence of W135 Neisseria meningitidis carriage in returning Hajj pilgrims: risk for early and late transmission to household contacts - Dispatches
After an outbreak of meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis W135, associated with the Hajj pilgrimage in 2001, 15% of returning vaccinated ...
Which contacts of patients with meningococcal disease carry the pathogenic strain of Neisseria meningitidis? A population based study
Objectives: To determine the prevalence of the pathogenic strain of Neisseria meningitidis in contacts of patients with meningococcal disease, and to determine ...
Recent increase in meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroups A and W135, Yaounde, Cameroon - Dispatches
From 1991 to 1998, Neisseria meningitidis serogroups A, B, and C represented 2%-10% of strains isolated from cases of bacterial meningitis in Yaounde ...

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