Meningococcal Meningitis

Neisseria meningitidis is part of the normal biota of the nasal cavity and throat in a fourth or more of the population, but these carriers show no symptoms of disease. For reasons not yet fully understood, these bacteria may invade the bloodstream and subsequently invade and colonize the meninges (the membranes that surround the spinal cord and brain). Early symptoms may include headache, fever, and vomiting, and death can quickly follow, due to the endotoxin produced (a toxin associated with the surface of the producing cells, usually gram-negative bacteria). Without proper care, the fatality rate can exceed 80%, but with treatment this can be reduced to below 10%.

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