Bacterial meningitis/septicaemia in Ireland
The HSE is advising the public to remain vigilant regarding meningitis and reminded parents to ensure their children and teenagers are fully vaccinated as per the National Immunisation Programme.
As of 21/12/2022 27 meningococcal cases were notified to HPSC in Ireland, compared with 71 cases in the same period in 2019 (before the pandemic and social mixing restrictions). Six cases have been reported in December.
This is not an outbreak. Meningococcal disease is known to have increased incidence in winter and early spring. Among the 27 cases, different age groups were affected from different parts of the country. Where known, the strain type is serogroup B. There are no links found between the cases.
Between 1st January 2022 and 21st December 2022 a total of 27 meningococcal cases have been notified. Sadly, four of the cases have died during the year.
Epidemiology in Ireland
In Ireland in recent years we have seen an overall decline in the number of cases of meningococcal disease, among all strain types. However, cases continue to occur.
Figure 1. Invasive Meningococcal Disease serogroups in Ireland, 2017 to 2022 to date (21/12/2022)
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) makes recommendations on immunisations based on epidemiology and international medical evidence. Currently there are six different vaccines offered through the national immunisation programme that protect against meningococcal disease and other causes of meningitis and septicaemia; a meningococcal B vaccine, a meningococcal C vaccine, a Meningococcal ACWY vaccine, a 6 in 1 vaccine which protects against Hib (Haemophilus Influenzae b), a PCV vaccine and a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV23).
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.
Since 2019, NIAC has recommended the use of an adolescent meningococcal vaccine that protects against strains ACWY- this vaccine is administered as part of the school programme to students in 1st year of second level school. The HSE vaccination teams will be offering this vaccine to students in 1st year next term.
The HSE is advising parents to ensure their children are fully vaccinated. It is important that people get the vaccines recommended as part of the National Immunisation Programme.
HPSC meningitis fact sheet http://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/vaccinepreventable/bacterialmeningitis/factsheets/
National Immunisation Office www.immunisation.ie