Meningococcal Meningitis: Symptoms and Treatment

Meningococcal meningitis is a rare type of bacterial meningitis, caused by the bacteriumNeisseria Meningitidis, which causes severe inflammation of the membranes covering the brain, generating symptoms such as very high fever, severe headache and nausea, for example.

Generally, meningococcal meningitis appears in the spring and winter, especially affecting children and the elderly, although it can also happen in adults, especially when there are other diseases that cause a weakened immune system.

Meningococcal meningitis is curable, but treatment should be started as soon as possible to avoid serious neurological sequelae that can be life-threatening. Thus, whenever meningitis is suspected, one should go to the emergency room to confirm the diagnosis and begin treatment.

See which tests can be used to confirm meningitis.

Main symptoms

The most common symptoms of meningococcal meningitis include:

  • High fever above 38ยบ;
  • Splitting headache;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Stiff neck, with difficulty bending the neck;
  • Drowsiness and excessive tiredness;
  • Joint pain;
  • Intolerance to light and noise;
  • Purple spots on the skin.

On the other hand, meningococcal meningitis can also cause other symptoms such as tense softness, agitation, intense crying, body stiffness and seizures. Since it is more difficult for the baby to understand the problem that is causing intense crying, it is best to always consult a pediatrician, especially if there is any change accompanied by fever or changes in the soft spot.

How to confirm the diagnosis

Since meningococcal meningitis is considered an emergency situation, you should go to the emergency room as soon as you suspect a possible infection in the meninges. In such cases, the doctor may suspect the disease through the symptoms, but it is necessary to perform a lumbar puncture to identify whether there is any bacteria in the spinal cord and confirm the diagnosis.

How the treatment is done

Treatment for meningococcal meningitis should be done as soon as possible in the hospital with an injection of antibiotics into the vein, such as Ceftriaxone, for about 7 days.

During treatment, family members should wear protective masks whenever they visit the patient, since the transmission of meningococcal meningitis occurs through respiratory secretions, however, it is not necessary to remain in isolation.

What causes meningococcal meningitis

Meningococcal meningitis is an infection of the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain, caused by the presence of the bacteriaNeisseria Meningitidis. Generally, this bacterium first infects other parts of the body, such as the skin, the intestine or the lungs, and then reaches the brain, where it develops and causes a large inflammation of the meninges.

In more rare cases, this bacterium can enter the brain directly, especially if there was a serious trauma to the head, such as in a traffic accident or during brain surgery, for example.

How to protect yourself

The prevention of meningococcal meningitis can be done with the use of vaccines for meningitis included in the child's vaccination schedule, as well as other precautions such as:

  • Avoid places with many people, especially;
  • Keep the rooms of the house well ventilated;
  • Avoid closed places;
  • Have good body hygiene.

In addition, people who have been in close contact with another infected person should see a general practitioner to assess the possibility that they may also have been affected by the bacteria, initiating the use of antibiotics, if necessary.

Check out a more complete list of care to avoid getting meningitis.

Possible sequelae of meningococcal meningitis

Since meningitis affects the brain membranes, there is a very high risk of complications such as:

  • Loss of vision or hearing;
  • Serious brain problems;
  • Difficulty in learning;
  • Muscle paralysis;
  • Heart problems.

The sequelae of meningococcal meningitis usually arise when treatment is not done properly or when it is started too late. Better understand the possible consequences of meningitis.