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Who is at risk?

Most cases of meningococcal disease develop in otherwise healthy people, without warning and results in high morbidity and mortality. 1

However 2 groups are at increased risk:

  • Infants: Population with highest notification rate* of confirmed IMD: 16.5 time higher than the average in Europe in 2012 2
  • Adolescents: Population with highest carriage**: Carriage peaks at 23.7% in 19-year olds versus 4.5% in infants and 13.1% in 30-year olds 3

*: Notification rate: Number of new cases notified in a given year, per 100 000 population
**: Condition of harboring a pathogen within the body

  • Infants immune systems are immature and have not been exposed to as many pathogens 45
  • Waning of protective maternal antibody levels 6
  • Adolescents and young adults increased participation in social behaviours, including:
  • smoking, kissing, frequenting pubs and discos, sharing of drinks, cigarettes and utensils, 
  • travel to high-risk areas and 
  • living in crowded conditions in university dormitories or in the military, contributes to increased risk for acquisition and spread of N.meningitidis bacteria 789

Notification rate of confirmed IMD cases and MenB cases by age group – Europe* 2012: 2

Figure adapted from data in Tables C4 and C13 of Reference 1: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Surveillance of invasive bacterial diseases in Europe, 2012

Total IMD cases, N=3436 (reported cases for which age information was provided, excluding aggregated data); serogroup B IMD cases, N=2182.
*Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg (total IMD cases only), Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.


  1. Cohn AC et al. Prevention and Control of Meningococcal Disease: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)(Recommendations and Reports) CDC MMWR, 2013;62(2):1-32
  2. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Surveillance of invasive bacterial diseases in Europe, 2012 Stockholm: ECDC; 2015.
  3. Christensen H et al. Meningococcal carriage by age: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Infect. Disease,2010;10(12):853-861
  4. Rosenstein N, et al. Meningococcal disease. NEJM,2001;344(18):1378-1388
  5. Judelsohn R & Marshall GS. The Burden of Infant Meningococcal Disease in the United States. J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc.2012;1(1):64-73
  6. Mameli C et al., The multicomponent meningococcal serogroup B vaccine (4CMenB): origin, composition, health impact and unknown aspects, Future Microbiol. (2015) 10(10), 1579–1598
  7. World Health Organization (WHO). Meningococcal meningitis fact sheet No.141 (Updated November 2015) available at Last accessed December, 2016 
  8. Bilukha et al, Prevention and control of meningococcal disease. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Recomm Rep. 2005;54(RR-7):1-21
  9. Imrey, PB. et al., Meningococcal carriage, alcohol consumption and campus bar patronage in a serogroup C meningococcal disease outbreak, J Clin Microbiol, 1995;33(12):3133-3137

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