Meningococcal disease

Alex Koyfman, James Kimo Takayesu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The first cases of meningococcal meningitis were described in Geneva in 1805 and in New England in 1806, the causative agent finally being identified by Anton Weichselbaum in 1887. The first meningococcal epidemics occurred in sub-Saharan Africa in the early 1900s and periodic outbreaks continue to occur worldwide today. Neisseria meningitidis colonizes the naso-oropharyngeal mucosa in approximately 10-20% of healthy individuals. When it invades the bloodstream, meningococcus has the potential to cause devastating disease. It can affect people of any age, but primarily infects children and adolescents. Meningococcemia classically follows an upper respiratory illness consisting of myalgias, fever, headache, and nausea. It can present as an indolent infection with rapid recovery or progress within a few hours into a fulminant illness affecting multiple organ systems. As such, meningococcemia is one of the important causes of sepsis. Prior to antibiotic therapy, the disease carried a 70% mortality rate. Despite advances in early diagnosis and treatment, 10-15% of affected patients die from the disease and another 10-20% are left with severe morbidities (neurologic disability, hearing loss, loss of a limb). Meningococcal disease remains a significant global health threat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-178
Number of pages5
JournalAfrican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Chemoprophylaxis
  • DIC
  • Meningitis
  • Meningococcemia
  • Meningococcus
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Gerontology
  • Emergency
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Critical Care


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