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Laboratory Information

The CDC Meningitis Laboratory provides laboratory support for state and local health department laboratories that request assistance and for active population based surveillance for Neisseria meningitidis and Haemophilus influenzae in an overall population base of more than 40 million people. If you would like to find laboratory information about Streptococcus pneumoniae please see the Streptococcus Laboratory site.

CDC's national meningococcal laboratory surveillance data play a critical role in continuing efforts to combat meningococcal pathogens. Laboratory data, together with Active Bacterial Core surveillance (ABCs) meningococcal isolates, serve as a valuable resource for outside researchers.

Key Resource

Hi Nm PCR Best Practices


Best Practices for Use of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) for Diagnosing Haemophilus influenzae and Neisseria meningitidis Disease and Public Health Importance of Identifying Serotype/Serogroup


The laboratory serves health departments throughout the United States in the characterization of meningococcal isolates for outbreak support and other public health concerns, and is also very active internationally. The lab is a well-recognized reference center for identification and characterization of Neisseria meningitidis and Haemophilus influenzae.

In addition to surveillance and reference activities, the lab is actively involved with specialized meningococcal research projects that have direct public health relevance, with numerous collaborators in academia and industry.

Reference Lab

The Meningitis Laboratory can offer advice concerning laboratory procedures dealing with bacterial meningococcal isolates. For clinicians and laboratorians who feel that their bacterial meningococcal isolates have novel features with potential public health impact, the lab is glad to discuss ways to assist in characterizing these isolates. Suspected outbreaks should be reported to state or local health departments.

Unfortunately, the lab does not have the resources to perform typing or other characterization for all requests sent to CDC's Meningitis Laboratory. Therefore, requestors are asked to discuss with the lab, in advance, the reason for the request so that the resources can be allocated to type those isolates that will answer the most pressing public health questions. An outbreak is one example of a situation in which rapid serogrouping has immediate value.

The lab will provide serogrouping or other tests only upon prior communication with a contact in the Meningitis Laboratory (contact below) indicating the reason for this service.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by calling 1-800-CDC-INFO or filling out a form and requesting to be put in touch with the Meningitis and Vaccine Preventable Diseases Branch.

Laboratory Methods for the Diagnosis of Meningitis

Laboratory Methods.

This manual summarizes laboratory techniques used in the isolation and identification and characterization of Neisseria meningitidis (the meningococcus), Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) and Haemophilus influenzae from the cerebrospinal fluid or blood of patients with clinical meningitis or bacteremia.

View list of chapters

Pathogens Studied at the CDC Meningococcal Laboratory

  • Neisseria meningitidis
  • Haemophilus influenzae

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