Risks and Severity

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.


An invasive meningococcal disease can evolve into severe forms.

After-effects occur in 10% of survivors, but the proportion varies with age:

  • deafness
  • necrosis of the skin (sometimes with a risk of amputation)
  • amputation (septicaemia)
  • epilepsy
  • a range of neurological problems (speech disorders, learning difficulties, developmental delay, paralysis)
  • renal insufficiency.


An invasive meningococcal disease can be very serious because it evolves rapidly and can kill in just a few hours.

The fatality rate of invasive meningococcal diseases is between 5 and 10% and up to 40% in the case of septicaemia.


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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