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Neisseria meningitidis, the bacterium that causes meningococcal meningitis in humans, the only natural hosts in which it causes disease. Meningococci are spherical, frequently occur in pairs, and are strongly gram-negative (seegram stain). They enter the nasal passage and may cause no symptoms (up to 30% of the population may harbour them between epidemics), or they may enter the bloodstream and produce the symptoms of meningitis.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on meningococcus, visit Britannica.com.