Emergencies preparedness, response

WHO Report on Global Surveillance of Epidemic-prone Infectious Diseases - Meningococcal disease


  • The number and intensity of epidemics of meningococcal disease in the meningitis belt has been increasing since the late 1970s with many large epidemics affecting tens of thousands of people.
  • Endemic bacterial meningitis is a major public health problem of at least equal proportions (2) to epidemic disease that is often neglected. It is most common in children; 50-60% of all cases of endemic meningococcal disease occur in children 3 months to 5 years old.
  • The epidemiology of meningococcal disease is complex, and although we have some knowledge about risk factors for epidemics, much more needs to be learned about disease transmission in order to develop effective strategies for prevention.

(2) Estimates in the WHO practical guidelines Control of epidemic meningococcal disease indicate that at least 1.2 million endemic cases of meningococcal disease occur each year and that 135 000 of these patients die.