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Invasive meningococcal disease in children in Ireland, 2001–2011
  1. Cilian Ó Maoldomhnaigh1,2,
  2. Richard J Drew3,4,5,
  3. Patrick Gavin1,2,
  4. Mary Cafferkey3,4,
  5. Karina M Butler1,2,6
  1. 1Department of Pediatric Infectious Disease and Immunology, Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Ireland
  2. 2Department of Pediatric Infectious Disease, Temple Street Children's University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3Irish Meningococcal and Meningitis Research Laboratory, Children's University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  4. 4Department of Clinical Microbiology, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
  5. 5Department of Clinical Microbiology, Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  6. 6UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Cilian Ó Maoldomhnaigh, Infectious Disease Department, Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin 12, Ireland; cilianom{at}


Background In 1999, invasive meningococcal disease was hyperendemic in Ireland at 14.75/100 000 population, with 60% group B and 30% group C diseases. National sepsis guidelines and meningococcal C vaccines were introduced in 2000. Despite a spontaneous decline in group B infection, invasive meningococcal disease remains a leading cause of sepsis. This study characterises the epidemiology of invasive meningococcal disease in children in Ireland since the introduction of meningococcal C vaccine and reviews its clinical presentation, hospital course and outcome in anticipation of meningococcal B vaccine introduction.

Methods National surveillance data were obtained from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre. A retrospective study of all meningococcal cases at two tertiary paediatric hospitals was conducted from 2001 to 2011. Records were reviewed using a standardised assessment tool. A study of 407 meningococcal cases published in 2002 provided comparative data.

Results Of 1820 cases <19 years of age notified nationally, 382 (21%) cases attended a study hospital; 94% group B, 3% group C, 225 (59%) male, median age 5 years (range 0.1–18). Fever was absent at presentation in 18%. Fifteen patients (3.6%) died. 221 (61%) were admitted to paediatric intensive care units (PICU). Permanent sequelae occurred in 9.4%. Compared with the historical cohort, there were differences in presentation, an increase in PICU interventions, but no significant decline in morbidity or mortality.

Conclusions Despite the meningococcal C vaccination campaign, invasive meningococcal disease continues to cause serious morbidity and claim lives. Group B infections remain dominant. As children who die often present with fulminant disease, preventive strategies including use of meningococcal B vaccine are needed to avert death and sequelae.

  • Invasive Meningococcal Disease
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Epidemiology

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  • Contributors KB, MC and PG contributed to the design of the study; RJD and CÓM carried out the study and analysed the data; and all authors contributed to the manuscript and are accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The Ethics Committees of the Children's University Hospital, Temple Street and Our Lady's Childnren's Hospital, Crumlin.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.