Meningitis – meningococcal

Alternative Names

Meningococcal meningitis

Definition of Meningitis – meningococcal

Meningococcal meningitis is an infection that results in swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Meningococcal meningitis is caused by the bacteria (also known as meningococcus).


Symptoms usually come on quickly, and may include:

Signs and tests

Physical examination will show:


Treatment with antibiotics should be started as soon as possible. Ceftriaxone is one of the most commonly used antibiotics for meningococcal meningitis. Penicillin in high doses is almost always effective, too.

Expectations (prognosis)

Early treatment improves the outcome. The death rate ranges from 5% – 15%. Young children and adults over 50 have the highest risk of death.


David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, PhD, MD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 9/15/2010

Meningococcal lesions on the back

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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