Neisseria meningitides

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Neisseria meningitides[1] is a diplococci (gram-negative) which is responsible for meningitis and septicaemia. It is part of the normal flora in 30% of the population, but it is not known how the bacterium is transformed to become pathogenic. This bacteria is picked up by passing droplets between humans.

The bacteria attach to the cells of the nasopharynx (upper part of the pharynx), where they gain access to the bloodstream.

Once in the bloodstream the bacterium replicates and causes swelling of the lining around the brain and spinal cord. The symptoms of meningitis include:

Septicaemia is a form of blood poisoning, the symptoms include:

Penicillin is the drug which usually treats this infection; however, some resistance has arisen. Chloramphenicol can also be used to treat this bacterium. A vaccine is also available.


  1. Madigan, M.T., Martinko, J.M., Stahl, D.A., Clark, D.P. (2012) Brock Biology of Micro-organisms. (13th ed.) San Francisco: Pearson Education. Page 982
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