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Clinical manifestations 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 the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children and young adults in the United States, with an overall mortality rate of 13 percent, and it is the second most common cause of community-acquired adult bacterial meningitis [1]. 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.

The clinical manifestations of both meningococcal meningitis and meningococcemia will be reviewed here. The microbiology, pathobiology, epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention 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" and "Treatment and prevention of meningococcal infection".)


Acute systemic meningococcal disease is most frequently manifest by three syndromes [2]:


Meningitis with accompanying meningococcemia

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 15, 2017.
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