Date of Award


Degree Type

Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Field of Study

Biomedical Sciences


Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

First Advisor

Harold Sheedlo

Second Advisor

Robin Newman

Third Advisor

John Fling


Epidemic meningococcal meningitis and meningococcemia disease is caused by the bacterial pathogen Neisseria meningitidis. Once infected with meningococci, onset of the disease is rapid with a high rate or morbidity and mortality. Without medical intervention the mortality rate is over 50%. Medical treatment is over 50%. Medical treatment of an outbreak of the disease with antibiotics can reduce the death rate to 10-15%. However, 10-20% of survivors will suffer from neurological damage that may include loss of hearing, paralysis or mental retardation. Recent concerns have been noted regarding the emergence of Neisseria meningitidis strains resistant to antibiotics. Vaccines have been developed in an effort to reduce epidemic outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis and meningococcemia. The first generation polysaccharide vaccines have shown to be safe and possess some degree of effectiveness but have shortcomings of limited length of immune protection and evidence of hyporesponsiveness to subsequent vaccinations. The second generation conjugated polysaccharide vaccines have been able to overcome these problems and show great promise in reducing the sale of epidemic meningococcal outbreaks with implementation of effective mass vaccination campaigns. In addition, reducing the number of infections will limit the exposure of Neisseria meningitidis to antibiotics and, in theory, slow the development of resistance to antibiotics.


W 4.5 P977C 2002