DOI: The Greek E-Journal of Perioperative Medicine 2003; 1: 20-5


Meningococcal disease is a serious infection and it appears as meningitis or septicaemia. Neisseria meningitidis is transmitted from person to person via respiratory secretions. Infection can be acquired only after exposure to a carrier of the organism. Chemoprophylaxis and vaccination are recommended for the limitation of the spread of the disease. The risk of infection in healthcare workers who are exposed to patients with meningococcal disease is low. Therefore chemoprophylaxis is only recommended for healthcare workers who have been exposed unprotected and directly to respiratory droplets/secretions of a patient with meningococcal disease around the time of hospital admission. The risk in healthcare workers who are not directly exposed to nasopharyngeal secretions of the patient is very low and inappropriate use of antibiotics should be avoided. Rifambin is the standard antibiotic for prophylaxis. Alternative drugs that have proved to be effective are ceftriaxone and ciprofloxacine. Vaccination is not routinely recommended for healthcare workers. Wearing a surgical face mask, glasses and gloves is very important for reducing the risk of exposure. For the protection of healthcare workers it is also essential to develop safe working practices.

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