Conquering the Meningococcus


  • Editor: Matthias Frosch

Correspondence: D.S. Stephens, Research Service (151I), Atlanta VA Medical Center, Decatur, GA 30033, USA. Tel.: +1 404 7275676; fax: +1 404 7270473; e-mail:


Since the first outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis were first described in Geneva in 1804 and in New England in 1806, and since the discovery of the causative agent by Weichselbaum in 1887 and the beginning of epidemics of meningococcal meningitis in the sub-Saharan Africa ∼100 years ago, Neisseria meningitidis has been recognized as the cause worldwide of epidemic meningitis and meningococcemia. The massive epidemic outbreaks in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990's, the emergence since 1995 of serogroups Y, W-135 and X and the prolonged outbreak of serogroup B meningococcal disease in New Zealand over the last decade serve to remind us of the continued potential of the meningococcus to cause global morbidity and mortality. This report reviews new discoveries impacting prevention and future prospects for conquering the meningococcus as a human pathogen.