Which medications in the drug class Antibiotics are used in the treatment of 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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Penicillin is the drug of choice for the treatment of meningococcal meningitis and septicemia. Chemoprophylactic antimicrobials most commonly used to eradicate meningococci include rifampin, quinolones (eg, ciprofloxacin), ceftriaxone. Also included in this class are minocycline and spiramycin.

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

A single dose (500 mg) of ciprofloxacin may be effective for the eradication of meningococcal carriage in adults. This agent is for chemoprophylaxis only.

Penicillin G (Pfizerpen)

Patients in whom meningococcal disease is suspected should receive a high dose of this drug, which interferes with synthesis of cell wall mucopeptide during active multiplication, resulting in bactericidal activity against susceptible microorganisms.

Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)

This agent is a third-generation cephalosporin with broad-spectrum, gram-negative activity. It has lower efficacy against gram-positive organisms and higher efficacy against resistant organisms.

Rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane)

Rifampin inhibits DNA-dependent bacteria, but not mammalian, RNA polymerase. This drug is for chemoprophylaxis only.


Chloramphenicol acts by inhibiting bacterial protein synthesis. It binds reversibly to the 50S subunit of bacterial 70S ribosome and prevents attachment of the amino acid–containing end of the aminoacyl-tran to the acceptor site on the ribosome. It is active in vitro against a wide variety of bacteria, including gram-positive, gram-negative, aerobic, and anaerobic organisms. Oily chloramphenicol may be the drug of choice in areas with limited health facilities, because a single dose of the long-acting form has been shown to be effective.

Minocycline (Minocin, Dynacin)

Minocycline is a member of the tetracycline class of antimicrobial agents. It is a broad-spectrum agent that inhibits susceptible organisms by blocking their protein synthesis. Although an oral form of the drug has been approved for chemoprophylactic use to eradicate the meningococcal carrier state, its use for these purposes was associated with a high incidence of general and gastrointestinal symptoms. The use of minocycline should be reserved for situations in which the risk of meningococcal meningitis is high.


Spiramycin is a macrolide antibiotic that is used as a chemoprophylactic antimicrobial to eradicate meningococci. Spiramycin inhibits the growth of susceptible organisms. It is currently not available in the United States.

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