Bacterial meningitis/septicaemia in Ireland


The HSE is advising the public to remain vigilant regarding meningitis and reminded parents to ensure their children are fully vaccinated as per the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme.

Current situation
Twenty meningococcal cases were notified to HPSC in Ireland between 24/12/2018 and 22/01/2019, compared with 19 cases in the same period last year.

There is not an outbreak. Meningococcal disease is known to have increased incidence in winter and early spring. Among the 20 cases, different age groups were affected, different strains were reported (B,C,W,Y), different regions of the country reported the cases and there were no links found between the cases.

Sadly, three of the cases have died; none was caused by meningococcal strains that are covered by the vaccines in the national childhood programme (the strains were not B or C).

Epidemiology in Ireland
In Ireland in recent years we have seen an overall decline in serogroup B (with the exception of 2018 when an increase was noted), and an increase in serogroups C, W and Y. An increase in clonal complex 11 in serogroup W has also been identified in Ireland, although numbers of cases notified overall are still relatively small in comparison to B and C.

Figure 1. Invasive Meningococcal Disease serogroups in Ireland, 2017 and 2018

IMD 2017 2018 colourscheme sm

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) makes recommendations on immunisations based on epidemiology and international medical evidence.Historically the incidence of meningitis B has been highest in infants under one year. Following a NIAC recommendation, Men B vaccine has been part of the Universal Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme for all children born on or after 1st October 2016.

The HSE is advising parents to ensure their children are fully vaccinated, as per the State’s Universal Immunisation Programme. It is important that parents ensure their child completes all five sessions of the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme.

Further information
HPSC meningitis fact sheet  
National Immunisation Office