La méningite à méningoque, une maladie rare causée par la bactérie Neisseria meningitidis. © Kateryna_Kon

Focus on a serious infection in adults and children: meningococcal meningitis

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the meningococcal meningitis it is an infection perceived as rare, however, in 2019 doctors registered more than one case per day and more than one death per week on average in our country. In fact, a study by Public Health France and the Institut Pasteur reports 459 diagnosed cases and 55 deaths during the year 2019 in metropolitan France and overseas territories.

Meningococcal meningitis is an infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, also called meningococcus. Grouped into 12 letter-designated serogroups, serogroup A, B, C, W, and Y strains are responsible for 99% of diagnosed infections. In France, in 2019, plus d’un cas sur deux (53%) is caused by meningococcal B, more Santé published France noted that meningococcal W is more frequent between 2018 and 2019, passing from 14% to 21% cases. A worrying trend as this hypervirulent serogroup has the highest case fatality rate and accounted for 45% of deaths in 2019.

Invasive meningococcal disease, an unpredictable and serious disease

The infection is unpredictable. the pollution it does via prolonged contact with secretions respiratory infections. Neisseria meningitidis can be found in the microbial flora of the throat, without the person developing symptom. Almost 30% of young people between the ages of 15 and 25 are healthy carriers. The passage of the bacteria through the respiratory mucosa allows it to reach the blood and reach the brain. This spread of the bacteria will trigger different symptoms.

Difficult to diagnose, a meningococcal infection initially causes nonspecific symptoms that do not distinguish it from other diseases: syndrome flu, fatigue, pain, etc. When the symptoms clear up, the infection is already installed. In adults, this infection causes photophobia, irritability, headaches, and vomiting; and in children, due to behavioral and communication disorders. fever.

The acute phase evolves rapidly, the condition of patients can deteriorate in a few hours if nothing is done. All serogroups combined, invasive meningococcal disease is fatal in approximately 10% of cases. Up to 20% of survivors may suffer aftermath severe and disabling. Hearing loss, amputationlearning disabilities are examples of sequelae related to the initial infection.

Meningococcus and after? the story of flavio

Flavio has been living with the consequences of his invasive meningococcal infection since 2019. At the age of 17, he fell ill while studying at Clermont-Ferrand to become a professional footballer. The first symptoms of it are classic: fever, tiredness, body aches, sensation of heat and cold. A first medical appointment does not diagnose the infection. The young man does not plan to talk to the doctor about his pain in his right leg, which he attributes to his sports practice. Just a few days after the first symptoms, his condition drastically deteriorated. He can no longer put his leg on the ground, he hardly sleeps or eats, he is dazzled by the white light
The wavelengths of visible light range from 380nm (violet) to 780nm (red). The visible spectrum is…” data-image=”” data-url=”https://” data-more=”Read more”>lights strong and then the blackout “, he says.

He spends three days in a coma. When she wakes up, she has lost forty pounds and can no longer get up. Then the doctors told her that she had contracted a septicemia meningococcal. Although meningitis is the most common form of infection Neisseria meningitidisthe bacteria can also contaminate the blood – sepsis – and other organs.

If his condition stabilizes, Flavio is not out of danger. In fact, his right leg must be amputated to completely eradicate the infection. The young man abandons his dream of becoming a professional footballer. In 2021, he had to undergo more than ten surgeries as a result of his infection. However, their prosthesis did not stop his desire to evolve in the world of sports and football. His story is to be heard in its entirety and all those of survivors or caregivers who have had to face meningitis in the podcast series ” unpredictable from Sanofi France.

Listen to Flavio’s story here!

Article produced in association with Sanofi


Public Health France and Institut Pasteur: “ Invasive meningococcal infections in 2019 “.

Krone M et al. Increase in invasive meningococcal disease of serotype W in Europe, 2013 to 2017. Euro Survey. 2019; 24(14):1-9. text meningitis

Sanofi Pasteur Europe SAS with a capital of €58,200,000 – RCS Lyon B 821 177 425

FRAN000004272 MAT-FR-2202268 June 2022

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