Meningococcal Disease (N.meningitidis)
(Center)What is Meningococcal Disease?
Meningococcal disease is caused by bacterial infection with Neisseria meningitidis. Neisseria meningitidis is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis and sepsis in the United States. Invasive infection can cause meningitis or meningococcemia (meningococcal sepsis) which can be severe and potentially fatal. Meningococcal Meningitis is when the bacteria infect the protective membranes covering their brain and spinal cord causing swelling. Meningococcemia occurs when the bacteria enter the bloodstream and multiplies in the walls of the blood vessels causing septic shock. Other serious sequelae include hearing loss, neurologic disability, and amputation secondary to limb ischemia.
- Stiff neck
- Altered mental status
- Cold hands and feet
- Dark purplish rash (maculopapular, petechial, or in later stages purpuric)
Note: Photcredit: Redbook 2015
- Prophylaxis for High-Risk Contacts and People with Invasive Meningococcal Disease
Exposed persons should receive antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent secondary cases regardless of whether an outbreak is suspected.
TABLE. Recommended chemoprophylaxis regimens for protection against meningococcal disease — Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), United States, 2012
Duration and route of administration*
Children aged <1 mo
5 mg/kg orally, every 12 hrs
Children aged ≥1 mo
15-20 mg/kg orally, every 12 hrs (maximum 600 mg)
≥ 1 mo
20 mg/kg orally(maximum 500mg)
125 mg intramuscularly
Single IM dose (To decrease pain dilute with 1% lidocaine)
250 mg intramuscularly
Single IM dose (To decrease pain dilute with 1 % lidocaine)
† Rifampin is not recommended for pregnant women because the drug is teratogenic in laboratory animals. Because the reliability of oral contraceptives might be affected by rifampin therapy, consideration should be given to using alternative contraceptive measures while rifampin is being administered.
Source: Red Book (2018-2021) Meningococcal Infections: Table 3.42. Recommended chemoprophylaxis regimens for high-risk contacts and people with invasive meningococcal disease.
Clinical Guidelines for Reporting Meningococcal Disease
□ Collect samples of blood and CSF if Neisseria meningitis is suspected.
If Neisseria meningitidis is identified by culture, send isolate to IDPH laboratory for serogrouping and molecular typing. If no isolate is available send specimens to IDPH. (e.g. Gram-negative diplococci on gram stain and/or positive PCR with negative culture.)
2121 W. Taylor Street
Chicago, IL 60612
□ Report suspect, probable, or confirmed cases of Meningococcal Disease within 24 hours to the CDPH Provider Hotline (312) 743-9000 during business hours (Monday - Friday 8:00 am – 4:00 pm) or 311 outside of business hours and enter the case in the I-NEDSS Web Portal. Register for a portal account here I-NEDSS Web Portal.
(Gram stain of CSF showing gram-negative diplococci strongly suggests meningococcal meningitis)
□ Complete the IDPH Communicable Disease Laboratory Test Requisition Form.
□ Ship specimens or isolates to:
Illinois Department of Public Health Laboratory
2121 W. Taylor Street
Chicago, IL. 60612
Once received, IDPH confirms the identification and determines the serogroup of N. meningitidis isolates. Selected isolates are forwarded to CDC laboratories for additional molecular characterization
For Clinical Questions Contact:
Sarah Kemble, MD (312) - 746-6088
Stephanie Black, MD (312) - 746-6034
For Other Questions Contact:
(312) – 743-9000
For questions during non-business hours call 311. (312-744-5000 if outside the City of Chicago.)
· A clinically compatible case and gram-negative diplococcic in any sterile fluid, such as CSF, synovial fluid, or scraping from a petechial or purpuric lesion;
· Clinical pupura fulminans without a positive culture
· A clinically compatible case with EITHER a positive result of antigen test OR immunohistochemistry of formalin-fixed tissue.
A Clinically compatible case and isolation of Neisseria meningitidis from a usually sterile site, for example:
· Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
· Synovial Fluid
· Pleural fluid
· Pericardial fluid
· Isolation from skin scraping of petechial or purpuric lesions
Detection of N meningitidis-specific nucleic acid in a specimen obtained from a normally sterile body site (e.g., blood or CSF), using a validated polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay
Source: Red Book (2018-2021 P.553) Meningococcal Infections: Table 3.40. Surveillance Case Definitions for Invasive Meningococcal Disease
Please include the following data elements when reporting cases:
- Patient Name, DOB, Address
- Gram Stain Results
- Include specimen source
- Culture results from CSF Blood (if available)
- CSF cell count, Protein, Glucose
- Peripheral White Blood Cell (WBC)
- Date of Symptom Onset
- Emergency Contact
- Location 7-10 days prior to symptom onset
*The incubation period for Meningococcal Disease can range from 2 to 10 days.
About Meningococcal Disease