Epidemiology of meningococcal disease in Switzerland, 1999-2002

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In Switzerland, immunisation against serogroup C meningococcal disease is recommended for persons at increased risk but is not included in the national vaccination programme. The aim of this study was to present the nationwide surveillance data on invasive meningococcal disease collected from 1999 to 2002, emphasising the evolution in the absence of extended vaccination. The number of reported cases of meningococcal disease peaked at 178 cases in 2000 (incidence rate of 2.5/100,000 person-years), with 61% of all cases attributed to serogroup C meningococci (incidence rate, 1.5/100,000 person-years). Since 2001, a spontaneous decrease in the reported cases was observed, resulting in an overall incidence rate of 1.4/100,000 person-years in 2002 (serogroup C cases, 0.8/100,000 person-years). On the other hand, the case-fatality rate of serogroup C cases increased to 18% in 2002, leading to an increase in the overall case-fatality rate from 8% to 14% (P>0.05). The small sample size reduces the interpretability of this observation. However, when the introduction of a generalised vaccination against serogroup C meningococcal disease is discussed, the fluctuations in the number of vaccine-preventable deaths should receive greater attention.

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