Meningococcal disease in the Middle East and North Africa: an important public health consideration that requires further attention
August 2012 (Vol. 16 | No. 8 | Pages e574-e582)
Mehmet Ceyhan, Sameh Anis, Latt Htun-Myint, Robert Pawinski, Montse Soriano-Gabarró, Andrew Vyse
This paper reviews the epidemiological data describing meningococcal disease in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). While meningococcal disease remains an important cause of endemic and epidemic disease in many MENA countries, existing published epidemiological data appear limited, fragmented, and collected via disparate methodologies. Children aged 5 years and younger are predominantly affected, though outbreaks of the disease often affect older age groups. Whilst serogroup A remains a main cause of meningococcal disease in the region, cases of serogroup B, W-135, and Y have been increasingly reported over the last two decades in some countries. The Hajj pilgrimage is a key factor influencing outbreaks and transmission, and the use of vaccines has minimized the effects on the home countries of the pilgrims and has decreased global dissemination of disease. Wider use of available polyvalent meningococcal conjugate vaccines may provide broader protection against the range of serogroups causing disease or posing a threat in the region. In addition, strengthening regional surveillance systems and regularly publishing reports with reliable estimates of disease incidence, carriage, disease-related mortality, and sequelae may facilitate the development of appropriate interventions and public health strategies regarding meningococcal disease within the region.