Meningococcal Meningitis - Types, Prevention, and More

Meningococcal Meningitis – Types, Prevention, and More

Meningitis is the severe inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. These membranes protect from trauma and act as shock absorbers and provide support to blood vessels and nerves.  

Meningococcal Meningitis is the third most common cause of bacterial meningitis. Individuals with weak immune systems having co-morbid conditions are at high risk.

What Is Meningococcal Meningitis?

It is a form of meningitis caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. The infection swells up the tissues lining the brain and the spinal cord and may prove fatal if not treated quickly. It is associated with long-term complications in 1 out of 5 children such as limb amputation, blindness, deafness, confusion and much more

Is It Contagious? Can It Get Serious?

Yes, meningococcal meningitis is contagious and can spread from person to person in close contact through coughing, sneezing, or throat secretions.

Infants and children with weakened immune system having co-morbid conditions or international travellers travelling to Hajj and Sub- Sahara are at a pre-disposed risk of contracting meningococcal infection.

What Are the Types of Meningococcal Infections?

The two types of meningococcal infections are:

Meningococcal meningitis is caused by Neisseria meningitidis infects the membrane of the brain and spinal cord, causing it to swell. The transmission is rapid, and there is a sudden onset of symptoms.

Meningococcal septicaemia is an infection of the bloodstream and is also called meningococcaemia. It damages the walls of the blood vessels causing bleeding into skin and organs.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Meningococcal Disease?

The signs and symptoms may begin with respiratory illness or a sore throat in the first 8 hours. Some commonly observed symptoms are fever, chills, sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache, and muscle ache.

In the next 8 hours, dark purple rashes, neck stiffness, and sensitivity to light may be observed.

In the final 8 hours, sepsis and multi-organ failure may occur.

Factors That Increase a Person’s Risk for Getting Meningococcal Disease

Certain factors increase the child’s risk of contracting this disease, such as:

1. Compromised Immune System or Medical Conditions – Certain chronic medical conditions may weaken a person’s immune system over time, making them prone to meningococcal meningitis. People living with HIV, brain and spinal cord disorders, blood disorders may be at high risk.

2. Travel – Children and adults travelling from a low-endemic country to regions that have recorded meningitis outbreaks may be at risk. Students going abroad for further studies in certain countries, pilgrims and guest workers visiting Mecca and Medina for the Hajj or Umrah for a longer duration and people travelling to the sub-Saharan meningitis belt during the dry season may be at a high risk of meningococcal disease.

What Are the Complications of Meningococcal Disease?

Complications can arise early or late in the infection course. Some commonly noted meningococcal disease complications include problems with the nervous system, deafness, visual impairment, multiple organ failure, seizures, and skin scarring.

How Can You Prevent Meningococcal Disease?

Meningococcal disease may be prevented by taking timely action in the following ways:

  • Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoiding sharing of personal belongings like towels, utensils, etc and maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Taking the Meningococcal vaccination (MenACWY), Please consult your doctor for more details.

Are There Any Side Effects of the Meningococcal Vaccination?

It is usually well-tolerated and may cause slight redness or swelling at the sight of injection. Other commonly observed side effects of the vaccination are fever and headache, which are commonly observed with other vaccines too.

Meningococcal disease is serious, and it progresses rapidly, 50% of infected kids may die if left untreated. Prevention is always better than cure and to protect your babies’ vaccination is one of the simplest defences. Do consult your doctor for more information, and click here to know further.

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Increased Case-Fatality Rate Associated with Outbreaks of Neisseria meningitidis Infection, Compared with Sporadic Meningococcal Disease, in the United States, 1994–2002 | Clinical Infectious Diseases | Oxford Academic (


Disclaimer: Issued in public interest by GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Limited. Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai 400 030, India.

Information appearing in this material is for general awareness only. Nothing contained in this material constitutes medical advice. Please consult your doctor for any medical queries, any question or concern you may have regarding your condition. The disease list indicated for vaccination is not complete, please consult your doctor for the complete vaccination schedule.

NP-IN-MNV-OGM-220003, DoP Oct 2022

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