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South Med J. 1989 Feb;82(2):235-7.

Recurrent meningitis in a black man.

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Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN.


A 43-year-old black man had recurrence of acute bacterial meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis. He had had three previous episodes of acute meningitis, starting at age 27 years. The patient's serum was found to have an undetectable level of the sixth component of complement. Congenital absence of one of the terminal proteins in the complement system impairs a patient's ability to eradicate bacteria, and increases susceptibility to recurring infections caused by meningococci and other Neisseria species. Though the serum of complement-deficient patients promotes normal opsonization of bacteria, it is unable to kill meningococci directly. The currently available meningococcal vaccine may augment type-specific antibody, but it does not correct the underlying complement deficiency. The role of self-administered antibiotics in preventing recurrent Neisseria infection remains uncertain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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