Report on a Suspected Case of Meningococcal Meningitis
2004 Vol.20 NO.7
Clinically, Meningococcal meningitis is diagnosed clinically by symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck and a petechial rash with pink macules. Pathologically, it is diagnosed and confirmed based on the isolation of Neisseria meningitidis from cultures. However, in cases treated with antibiotics prior to specimen collection or when specimens are incorrectly collected, bacteria may be dead before the specimens arrive at the laboratory, and the culture could be negative. It is thus important to detect pathogenic agents rapidly and accurately with molecular diagnostic methods. The Southern Region Branch Bureau of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) received a report from a military hospital of a suspected case of Meningococcal meningitis. Though cultures of the blood and CSF of the patient were negative, Gram stain of the CSF revealed the existence of Gram-negative diplococci. To investigate the sources of infection, the Laboratory of the CDC used PCR testing to detect the DNA of N. meningitides in the CSF, and proved, though indirectly, the possibility of Meningococcal meningitis infection. Soon after the report by the military hospital, the CDC also took some preventive measures such as health education of the contacts and disinfection of the environment.