Meningococcal disease serogroup C
Félix O Dickinson1, Antonio E Pérez1, Iván E Cuevas2
1Department of Epidemiology, “Pedro Kourí” Institute, Havana, Cuba; 2Pharmacovigilance Group, Finlay Institute, Havana, Cuba
Abstract: Despite current advances in antibiotic therapy and vaccines, meningococcal disease serogroup C (MDC) remains a serious threat to global health, particularly in countries in North and Latin America, Europe, and Asia. MDC is a leading cause of morbidity, mortality, and neurological sequelae and it is a heavy economic burden. At the individual level, despite advances in antibiotics and supportive therapies, case fatality rate remains nearly 10% and severe neurological sequelae are frequent. At the population level, prevention and control of infection is more challenging. The main approaches include health education, providing information to the public, specific treatment, chemoprophylaxis, and the use of vaccines. Plain and conjugate meningococcal C polysaccharide vaccines are considered safe, are well tolerated, and have been used successfully for over 30 years. Most high-income countries use vaccination as a part of public health strategies, and different meningococcal C vaccination schedules have proven to be effective in reducing incidence. This is particularly so with conjugate vaccines, which have been found to induce immunogenicity in infants (the age group with the highest incidence rates of disease), stimulate immunologic memory, have longer effects, not lead to hyporesponsiveness with repeated dosing, and decrease acquisition of nasopharyngeal carriage, inducing herd immunity. Antibiotics are considered a cornerstone of MDC treatment and must be administered empirically as soon as possible. The choice of which antibiotic to use should be made based on local antibiotic resistance, availability, and circulating strains. Excellent options for a 7-day course are penicillin, ampicillin, chloramphenicol, and third-generation cephalosporins (ceftriaxone and cefotaxime) intravenously, although the latter are considerably more expensive than the others. The use of steroids as adjunctive therapy for MDC is still controversial and remains a topic of debate. A combination of all of the aforementioned approaches is useful in the prevention and control of MDC, and each country should tailor its public health policy to its own particular needs and knowledge of disease burden.
Keywords: epidemiology, public health significance, vaccination strategies, disease management
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