Meningococcal Meningitis is a bacterial systemic infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. It has 13 serogroups, with group B and C being most common in the UK. It is transmitted by sneezing, coughing and direct contact with respiratory secretions. The causative bacteria are found in the nasal passages of individuals.
Meningococcal meningitis is observed all over the world but the highest rate of the disease is in the sub-Saharan Africa (Meningitis Belt), stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east.
Like other respiratory infections, it’s hard to prevent but maintaining good personal hygiene when coughing or sneezing can help. Also, avoiding overcrowded markets and public transport may also reduce risk. All travelers to risk areas should consider getting vaccinated against Meningitis.
Most common symptoms of Meningococcal Meningitis are sudden onset of fever, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, confusion, severe headache, rash under the skin and vomiting. If one or more of these symptoms are present, medical attention should be sought immediately.
There are vaccinations available to protect against multiple strains of Meningococcal meningitis. Travelers to risk areas or those who will be taking part in activities which will expose them to a risk of Meningococcal meningitis such as healthcare staff are recommended to get vaccinated. Pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj are required to have a valid certificate of vaccination against the disease for visa purposes.