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Treatment and prevention of meningococcal infection

Michael Apicella, MD
Section Editors
Stephen B Calderwood, MD
Morven S Edwards, MD
Deputy Editor
Elinor L Baron, MD, DTMH


Neisseria meningitidis is a common cause of community-acquired bacterial meningitis in children and adults in the United States and in many other countries. (See "Epidemiology of Neisseria meningitidis infection" and "Bacterial meningitis in children older than one month: Clinical features and diagnosis", section on 'Causative organisms' and "Epidemiology of bacterial meningitis in adults".)

The clinical manifestations of meningococcal disease can be quite varied, ranging from transient fever and bacteremia to fulminant disease with death ensuing within hours of the onset of clinical symptoms. (See "Clinical manifestations of meningococcal infection".)

The treatment and prevention of meningococcal infection will be reviewed here [1-3]. The microbiology, pathobiology, epidemiology, and diagnosis of N. meningitidis infection are discussed separately. (See "Microbiology and pathobiology of Neisseria meningitidis" and "Epidemiology of Neisseria meningitidis infection" and "Diagnosis of meningococcal infection".)


Meningococcal meningitis and sepsis — Early and appropriate antibiotic treatment markedly improves the outcome of meningococcal infections. The current mortality rate of meningococcal sepsis in the United States is approximately 10 to 14 percent. The supportive data are presented below [4]. (See 'Prognosis' below.)

Because of the importance of early antibiotic therapy, meningococcal infection should be considered in the differential diagnosis of any patient with the sudden onset of a febrile illness, especially those with petechiae and/or meningeal signs. (See "Clinical features and diagnosis of acute bacterial meningitis in adults".)

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 04, 2017.
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