Invasive Meningococcal Infection caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A

Invasive Meningococcal Infection Caused by Neisseria meningitidis Serogroup A

Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A (MenA) is a major cause of meningococcal disease, or meningitis, and septicaemia worldwide. It is spread via aerosolized droplets or direct contact with nasopharyngeal secretions from an infected person and can cause fever, headaches, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting, and a rash. Complications can include hydrocephalus, restriction of limb movement, hearing loss, central nervous system damage, and even death.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Common symptoms of MenA include:
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
In severe cases, additional symptoms can include confusion, seizures, paralysis, coma, limb weakness, joint pain, and hydrocephalus. Diagnosis of MenA is usually made through laboratory testing. Tests may include a Gram stain, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) test, and culture studies. Blood, cerebrospinal fluid, or throat swabs may be used for testing.

Treatment Options

Treatment should begin as soon as MenA is suspected. Commonly prescribed antibiotics for meningococcal infection include ceftriaxone, cefotaxime, penicillin, chloramphenicol, and macrolide such as azithromycin. Corticosteroids may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation, inflammation-related symptoms, and risk of hearing loss. In severe cases, additional treatment options may be needed in order to reduce the risk of complications. These include:
  • IV fluids for dehydration
  • Ventilation and oxygen therapy for breathing problems
  • IV immunoglobulins for aiding the body’s ability to fight infection
  • Dialysis for kidney failure
  • Surgery to relieve pressure on the brain or to repair damaged blood vessels or tissue


Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent MenA. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine vaccination of infants and children with one of the following MenA vaccines: meningococcal polysaccharide (MPSV4) or conjugate vaccines (MCV4 or MenACWY). Vaccinations are also recommended for adults at high risk for infection. Other measures to prevent the spread of MenA include:
  • Avoiding close contact with anyone suspected of having meningococcal disease
  • Frequent and thorough handwashing
  • Not sharing food, drinking glasses, or utensils
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces contacted by an infected person
  • Avoiding crowded places during outbreaks of MenA


Invasive meningococcal infection caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A is a serious and potentially deadly disease which is spread through contact with an infected person and can cause a range of symptoms, including fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Diagnosis is made through laboratory testing and treatment is usually begun with antibiotics. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent MenA, and other preventative measures such as handwashing, avoiding close contact with an infected person, and avoiding crowded places during outbreaks of MenA should be followed.