Pathogenesis

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Infection is acquired by inhaling airborne droplets from the respiratory tract of another person. The meningococci attach to the mucous membrane by pili and multiply. They are then taken in by the respiratory tract epithelial cells, pass through them, and invade the bloodstream. The blood carries the organisms to the meninges and cerebrospinal fluid, where they multiply faster than they can be engulfed and destroyed by the polymorphonu-clear neutrophils (PMNs) that enter the fluid in large numbers in response to the infection (figure 26.7). The bacteria and leukocytes degrade glucose and thereby cause a marked drop in

Polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs)

Polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs)

Meningococci

20 mm

Figure 26.7 Polymorphonuclear Neutrophils and Meningococci in the Spinal Fluid of an Individual with Meningococcal Meningitis This case is somewhat unusual because so many of the meningococci can be seen outside the leukocytes.

Meningococci

20 mm

Figure 26.7 Polymorphonuclear Neutrophils and Meningococci in the Spinal Fluid of an Individual with Meningococcal Meningitis This case is somewhat unusual because so many of the meningococci can be seen outside the leukocytes.

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