Meningococcemia, a type of meningococcal disease, is a bacterial infection of the blood that can lead to long-term complications and even death. It is caused by a bacteria that frequently lives in a person's aiways without causing visible signs of illness.
Last Updated: February 25, 2024

Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis which can be spread from person to person through droplets from coughing, sneezing, kissing, or sharing foods, drinks and utensils. This disease can either lead to meningoccocemia (if the bacteria enters the bloodstream), or meningitis (if the bacteria infects the tissue covering the brain and the spinal cord). It most commonly affects babies, teens, and young adults.

Initially, symptoms of meningococcal disease may just resemble a flu-like illness, like fever and chills, nausea and vomiting, neck stiffness, and muscle aches. More serious symptoms will then follow, once the disease has reached the bloodstream: • Pinpoint rashes, which become wider and appear like bruises starting from the legs and arms • Severe skin changes/injury that could eventually cause to death of the affected part • Low blood pressure

Once the person is seen with the symptoms mentioned above, especially the more serious ones, it is best to immediately consult a doctor. The diagnosis is usually established by identifying the bacteria from a culture of the patient’s blood or cerebrospinal fluid. It is most important to promptly start antibiotic treatment once meningococcal disease is highly suspected as this greatly improves chances of survival. Depending on the severity of the disease, the person may also receive breathing support and medications to treat low blood pressure.

Getting immunized with a vaccine against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent the disease. Since the disease is transmitted from person to person, it is also important to avoid crowded places and close contact with meningococcemia patients. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will also help prevent getting infected: • Increasing immune resistance by having a healthy diet, regular exercise, and adequate rest • Avoiding alcohol drinking and cigarette smoking • Maintaining a clean environment • Washing hands frequently with soap and water
Last Updated: February 25, 2024