What is meningococcal meningitis?
- Meningococcal meningitis is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitides. It affects the covering of the brain and the spinal cord.
- It can present as meningitis and or septicaemia (blood poisoning). Meningococcal meningitis can be fatal, and for some survivors there are long-term complications.
- There are different types of meningococcal meningitis. Five types cause most of the disease in humans: A, B, C, W and Y.
- Group B (Men B) is responsible for about 80% of bacterial meningitis in the UK.
- The bacteria can be spread through respiratory droplets by activities such as coughing, sneezing or kissing.
- Crowded living conditions such as students in university, military recruits or Hajj pilgrims facilitate the spread of the disease, ,.
Meningitis B: Prevalence and population at risk
- The prevalence of meningitis B varies with age, with most cases occurring in children and infants under the age of 5 years. Another peak occurs in teenagers and young adults
- Patients with underlying medical conditions such as asplenia, splenic dysfunction (including coeliac and sickle cell disease) and complement disorders have also been identified at risk of contracting Meningitis B.
- Your healthcare professional can advise you on whether you or your child are recommended to receive the Meningitis B vaccine- Bexsero.
The disease can manifest itself in a variety of different ways according to the age group affected. The most common symptoms of meningitis are:
Children and adults
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. Chapter 14: Meningococcal Disease. Hamborsky J, Kroger A, Wolfe S, eds. 13th ed. Washington D.C. Public Health Foundation, 2015
- Public Health England. Invasive meningococcal B infections laboratory reports in England by age group & epidemiological year, 1998/99-2014/15. October 2015. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/470611/Table_7_Invasive_meningococcal_B_infections_lab_reports_England_by_age_group epi_year.pdf. Last accessed: July 2017.
- The Green Book, Chapter 7 ‘Immunisation of individuals with underlying medical conditions’ https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/309218/Green_Book_Chapter_7_v1_3.pdf . Last accessed July 2017
- World Health Organization (WHO). Meningococcal meningitis. Fact sheet No.141 (Updated November 2015). Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs141/en/. Last accessed July 2017.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Manual for the surveillance of vaccine-preventable diseases. Chapter 8: Meningococcal Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, 2008 available at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt08-mening.html. Last accessed July 2017.
- Rosenstein NE et al. Meningococcal disease. N Engl J Med 2001;344(18):1378–88
- Public Health England. Meningococcal disease: clinical and public health management. August 2015. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/meningococcal-disease-clinical-and-public-health-management. Last accessed: July 2017.
- Chapter 22 v.10.0: Meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia. In: The Green Book. Public Health England: updated September 2016. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/545629/Green_Book_Chapter_22.pdf. Last accessed: July 2017.