E.coli meningitis is the second most common bacterial cause of neonatal meningitis second to Streptococcus B.
Women carry the bacteria in their intestines and vagina and babies who develop neonatal meningitis can develop the infection when exposed to the bacteria during delivery.
Premature and low birth-weight babies are at much higher risk. It is a very serious disease. Approximately 20% of newborns die in spite of treatment, and many survivors sustain permanent brain damage. Because most cases occur in premature infants it is difficult to determine how much of the damage is due to meningitis and how much is the result of premature birth.
E.coli meningitis is treated with antibiotics and in spite of much research no vaccine has yet been developed.