Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis, a serious infection of the Meninges that affects the brain membrane. It can cause severe brain damage and is fatal in 50% of cases if untreated. Several different bacteria can cause meningitis.Neisseria meningitidis is the one with the potential to cause large epidemics.
Signs and Symptoms
Sudden high fever, Severe headache that isn’t easily confused with other types of headache, Stiff neck, Vomiting or nausea with headache, Confusion or difficulty concentrating, Seizures, Sleepiness or difficulty waking up, Sensitivity to light, Lack of interest in drinking and eating, Skin rash in some cases, such as in meningococcal meningitis, In newborns: Constant crying, Excessive sleepiness or irritability, Inactivity or sluggishness, Poor feeding, A bulge in the soft spot on top of a baby’s head (fontanel), Stiffness in a baby’s body and neck.
Every year, bacterial meningitis epidemics affect more than 400 million people living in the 21 countries of the “African meningitis belt” (from Senegal to Ethiopia). In this area over 800 000 cases were reported in the last 15 years (1996-2010). Of these cases, 10% resulted in deaths, with another 10-20% developing neurological sequelae. During the 2010 epidemic season (weeks 26) 22831 cases were recorded in 14 countries under enhanced surveillance. Among these 22 831 cases there were 2415 deaths, giving a case-fatality ratio (CFR) of 10.6%. The highest number of cases were reported by Burkina Faso (6145 including 863 deaths) followed by Nigeria (4699 cases including 322 deaths) and Chad (3058 cases including 231 deaths).
Every year, too, an estimated 23,000 children die of bacterial meningitis in Pakistan. Meningococcus is a germ that causes meningitis in children and adults. We do not know if this is a common cause of meningitis in Pakistan or not as epidemiological studies have not been conducted.
Vaccination and Prevention
Vaccine against Meningococcus are now available in Pakistan. This vaccine can be given as a single injection in people 2 – 55 years of age.