Meningococcal Meningitis

Meningococcal meningitis is an infection found in the cerebrospinal fluid, and causes a high fever, chills and headache, pain in the back, abdomen and extremities, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting. A petechial rash is commonly found (purply - red, small blister like spots everywhere but the nail beds), which usually fades in 3-4 days. Neck and back rigidity are also present. In severe cases, confusion, delirium, seizures, shock, spontaneous bleeding, thrombosis and coma can occur within 24 hours of the onset of the disease.

This is the disease we often hear/see on the TV. It is really fast and horrific, and usually results in media attention because of this. Medicos can miss the diagnosis in the early stages.

If not treated immediately, the condition is often fatal. Those with a suspected meningococcal infection should be admitted to hospital immediately, and blood tests can be performed to confirm infection.

The disease is spread by droplets in the air. Outbreaks of Meningococcal meningitis are common in places such as India, Nepal and Central Africa. If you are travelling for long periods of time using public transport or staying in crowded accommodation, you have an increased risk of meningococcal meningitis. Discuss your level of risk with the travel health consultant.

There are vaccines which will protect the traveller from infection of some strains of meningitis (A,C,W,Y & B). These are available at Travel Bug Vaccination Clinic.