Diagnosis

Bacterial meningitis can be severe and fatal and therefore requires immediate antibiotic treatment. If you notice symptoms of meningitis, do not delay, consult a doctor or go to the accident and emergency department immediately.

How can meningitis be diagnosed?

First, the doctor will examine the patient based on their reported symptoms (clinical examination). 

Then a sample may be taken (blood sample and lumbar puncture). 

The sample is sent to the laboratory where it will be cultured. The diagnosis can be confirmed from the bacteria or the viruses isolated in the sample.

Over 90% of the strains of meningococcal bacteria (Neisseria meningitidis) and listeria (Listeria monocytogenes) of hospitalised Belgian patients are sent to the National Reference Centre for Neisseria meningitidis hosted by the WIV-ISP, for confirmation of the diagnosis.

Sciensano hosts the National Reference Centre (NRC) which provides epidemiological monitoring for the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) and Listeria monocytogenes (listeria). The Belgian Official Medicines Control Laboratory (OMCL) of Sciensano, together with the European OMCL network, is responsible for the quality control of the meningitis vaccine prior to marketing.

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