Meningococcemia: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 1/25/2022

Meningococcemia is a condition in which there is a widespread bacterial infection in the body. Children and adolescents 5 to 19 years of age are at highest risk for meningococcemia. These bacteria are known to cause meningitis, and meningococcemia means the bacteria have spread into the bloodstream. Meningococcal disease is a life-threatening, severe infection.

Signs and symptoms of meningococcemia include

If meningitis develops, there may be stiffness on bending the neck and sensitivity to light (photophobia). Other associated signs and symptoms can include a rash that can be seen as dots or larger blotches on the skin. Severe infections may cause low blood pressure and reduced blood flow to the hands and feet, leading to cold extremities or, in severe cases, tissue death of the hands and feet requiring amputation.

Cause of Meningococcemia

Infection with the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis causes meningococcemia.

Other meningococcemia symptoms and signs

Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.