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Sharp increase in cases of meningococcal meningitis in 2023

In 2023, the incidence of invasive meningococcal infections saw a sharp increase with a number of cases reported without precedent for 10 years, according to a Public Health France bulletin published on Wednesday.

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Sharp increase in cases of meningococcal meningitis in 2023

In 2023, the incidence of invasive meningococcal infections saw a sharp increase with a number of cases reported without precedent for 10 years, according to a Public Health France bulletin published on Wednesday.

Meningococci are a family of bacteria that cause very dangerous and contagious meningitis, mainly in children and adolescents. In 2023, 560 cases of invasive meningococcal infections were reported, an increase of 72% compared to 2022 and a level unprecedented in ten years.

This post-Covid 19 resurgence could be explained by the decline in immunity in the population less exposed to meningococci during the pandemic, but also by the return of respiratory viruses (in particular influenza) which can promote invasive bacterial infections, underlines Public health France. The incidence rate of reported cases was highest among children under one year of age (56 cases, or 8.2 cases/100,000 inhabitants) and was also high among young adults aged 15 to 24 (101 cases , or 1.2 cases/100,000 inhabitants).

Also readMeningitis: how to recognize this potentially fatal disease?

The main meningococci are separated into large families: A, B, C, W and Y. For a long time, B and C remained in the majority. This is still the case for B. But C has become marginal, clearly behind Y and W, the latter being particularly deadly. Among the 560 cases declared in 2023, the serogroup was characterized for 545 cases (97%): 240 cases of serogroup B (44%), 160 cases of serogroup W (29.4%), 130 cases of serogroup Y (23 .9%), five cases of serogroup C (0.9%).

These data contributed to the work of the High Authority of Health on the revision of the vaccination strategy against meningococci, indicates Public Health France. Currently, only meningococcal B and C vaccinations are affected. Vaccination against meningococci C is compulsory for children under one year of age, while vaccination against B is only recommended.

Following the recommendations of the High Authority of Health, the government should soon announce that vaccination will become much broader. In infants, first, where vaccination against all strains (A, B, C, W and Y) will be compulsory. In adolescents, then, a booster dose against A, C, W and Y will be recommended between 11 and 14 years of age, even if they have already received this vaccine at a young age.

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