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What causes meningococcal meningitis?

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Bacteria and viruses are the two main causes of meningitis. The bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, also called meningococcus, causes meningococcal meningitis. In children and teens, meningococcus is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis. In adults, it is the second most common cause.

Meningococcal bacteria may cause infection in a part of the body -- the skin, gastrointestinal tract, or respiratory tract, for instance. For unknown reasons, the bacteria may then spread through the bloodstream to the nervous system. When it gets there, it causes meningococcal meningitis. Bacteria can also enter the nervous system directly after severe head trauma, surgery, or infection.

Your risk for meningococcal meningitis increases if you are exposed to the bacterium that causes it. Your risk also increases if you've had a recent upper respiratory infection. Babies, children, and teens are at greatest risk.

From: An Overview of Meningococcal Meningitis WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP).  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: ''Meningococcal Disease: Help Prevent It.'' MedlinePlus: "Meningitis - meningococcal." CDC: "Meningococcal Vaccines: What You Need to Know." Nemours Foundation: "Meningitis." Meningitis Research Foundation: "Symptoms." National Network for Immunization Information: "Vaccine Information: Meningococcal Disease."





Reviewed by Dan Brennan on October 5, 2019

SOURCES:

Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP).  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: ''Meningococcal Disease: Help Prevent It.'' MedlinePlus: "Meningitis - meningococcal." CDC: "Meningococcal Vaccines: What You Need to Know." Nemours Foundation: "Meningitis." Meningitis Research Foundation: "Symptoms." National Network for Immunization Information: "Vaccine Information: Meningococcal Disease."





Reviewed by Dan Brennan on October 5, 2019

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What are the symptoms of meningococcal meningitis?

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