What are the risk factors for meningococcal meningitis?

Updated: Jul 16, 2018
  • Author: Francisco de Assis Aquino Gondim, MD, PhD, MSc, FAAN; Chief Editor: Niranjan N Singh, MBBS, MD, DM, FAHS, FAANEM  more...
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Answer

Meningococci that elaborate a capsule can lead to invasive disease. The capsule protects them from desiccation and from host immune mechanisms. Adhesins and endotoxins also enhance their pathogenic potential. Dysfunctional properdin (ie, component of the alternative pathway of complement), HIV infection, functional or anatomical asplenia, and congenital complement deficiencies predispose individuals to meningococcal disease.

Smoking and concurrent viral infection of the upper respiratory tract diminish the integrity of the respiratory mucosa and increase the likelihood of invasive disease. Crowding living conditions also facilitate disease spread, since individuals from different areas have different strains of meningococci.


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