Meningococcal disease in childhood: Epidemiology, clinical features and prevention

S. Bosis, A. Mayer, S. Esposito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) represents a public health problem and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. IMD can occur as an endemic disease with sporadic cases or epidemics with outbreaks. Neisseria meningitis strains are divided into 13 serogroups, but only five (A, B, C, W-135, and Y) are responsible for most IMD across the world. All age groups are at risk for IMD, but infants and adolescents are particularly vulnerable. The most common clinical manifestations of IMD are meningitis and septicemia, although in some cases both clinical pictures are present. The clinical pattern can differ according to age; in young children, the clinical manifestations may be more insidious and the diagnosis may be more difficult compared to older children or adolescents. Death occurs in 6-10% of cases and sequelae in 4.3-11.2% of cases. Early recognition of children with meningococcal infection is important in order to initiate systemic antibiotic therapy, although vaccination remains the best strategy to control meningococcal disease. Recently, different meningococcal vaccines have been introduced worldwide, resulting in a reduction in the overall burden of the disease. The goal of the next few years should be to increase vaccination coverage against meningococcal diseases, continue to monitor IMD and develop a unique vaccine able to cover all of the main meningococcal strains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E121-E124
JournalJournal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Children
  • Invasive meningococcal disease
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Neisseria meningitidis
  • Pediatric age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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