Hi there, I'm Neisseria meningitidis, N. meningitidis for short. You may not have heard of me before, but you will have heard about what I do. You see, I'm one of the bacteria that cause meningitis. Not always – you might have me living at the back of your nose and never even know it – around 25% of you do at any one time. But sometimes I don't just stay harmlessly in the nose and throat, I invade, first the bloodstream, and then the brain, causing septicaemia (you might know it as ‘blood poisoning’) and meningitis. They're not illnesses you want to have – meningitis means inflammation of the lining of the brain. Sounds nasty doesn't it? Well it is – about 1 in 14 people who get bacterial meningitis die from it. Inflammation means swelling and because your skull keeps the swelling inside, pressure builds up in the brain – not ideal, for something as delicate as your human brains. Obviously, your body doesn't want this to happen and tries to stop me invading, but I'm sneaky. I have lots of tricks and special skills to help me do what I do and I want you to appreciate how much effort I put in. Let me tell you how I get inside your brain.

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