Purulent meningitis 2016

The 128 notified cases of purulent meningitis is the lowest number recorded since monitoring was introduced.

This report describes the occurrence of meningitis caused by meningococci, pneumococci and other streptococci than pneumococci and Listeria monocytogenes, Haemophilus influenzae, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

The decrease was driven by a drop in the number of cases of meningococcal meningitis. In 2007, pneumococcal vaccination was introduced into the childhood vaccination programme, and this has produced a decrease in the occurrence of pneumococcal meningitis (and other invasive pneumococcal disease) in children and in the rest of the population.

Effective childhood vaccination programmes have considerably reduced the disease burden caused by purulent meningitis in small children. Thus, 2016 saw only a single case of Haemophilus influenzae of type b (part of the childhood vaccination programme as from 1993) compared with the approx. 80 annual cases previously observed in small children. Similarly, the number of cases of invasive pneumococcal disease in children below 2 years of age has now been reduced by more than 70%, from approx. 64 cases to 18 cases in 2016. Despite this decrease, infants still have by far the highest occurrence of purulent meningitis. In 2016, the most frequent cause of purulent meningitis in infants was group B streptococci, Escherichia coli and pneumococci.

The leading cause of purulent meningitis in persons aged more than 50 years was pneumococci. This is a serious infection, and 9 out of 64 adults died due to the condition in 2016. Furthermore, the majority of the survivors suffered sequelae. The most common sequela was hearing impairment and epilepsy.

For more information, please see EPI-NEWS 50/17

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