Examine reveals important post-COVID meningitis resurgence

A crew of scientists from the Institut Pasteur has used the database of the Nationwide Reference Middle for Meningococci to hint the evolution of invasive meningococcal illness instances in France between 2015 and 2022, revealing an unprecedented resurgence within the illness after the easing of management measures imposed throughout the COVID-19 epidemic. Lately reported instances have primarily been attributable to meningococcal serogroups that have been much less frequent earlier than the pandemic, and there was a selected uptick in instances amongst folks aged 16 to 24. The outcomes, printed within the Journal of An infection and Public Well being on October 12, 2023, ought to assist information adaptation of the vaccine technique for this deadly illness.

In the course of the COVID-19 epidemic, well being and hygiene measures like sporting masks and social distancing had a optimistic affect on respiratory infections. This was the case for invasive meningococcal illness (IMD), with the variety of infections falling by greater than 75% in 2020 and 2021. However what would occur on the finish of the pandemic, when the protecting measures have been eased?

In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, two theories emerged. The primary was that this optimistic impact would final and that meningococci would cease circulating over the long run. The second was that there could be a fast resurgence in bacterial exercise amongst a naive inhabitants which had not come into contact with the micro organism for a very long time.”

Muhamed-Kheir Taha, co-lead writer of the examine, Head of the Invasive Bacterial Infections Unit and Director of the Nationwide Reference Middle for Meningococci on the Institut Pasteur

A crew of scientists from the Institut Pasteur subsequently determined to conduct an in depth examine of the evolution of the illness between 2015 and 2022, they usually confirmed the second speculation.

Utilizing samples from the Nationwide Reference Middle for Meningococci, which has recorded all instances of IMD in France since 1980, the scientists have been capable of look again over the pandemic interval. The primary statement was clear. “There was an unprecedented resurgence in invasive meningococcal illness in autumn 2022, and now, in autumn 2023, the variety of instances is increased than within the pre-COVID-19 interval,” outlines Samy Taha, first writer of the examine and a scientist within the Institut Pasteur’s Invasive Bacterial Infections Unit. In contrast with a complete of 298 instances recorded between January and September 2019, 421 instances have already been recorded between January and September 2023 – an increase of 36%, regardless that the winter peak has not but arrived. The determine for a similar interval in 2021 was 53 instances. There are two essential explanations for this: common immunity was weaker as a result of strains have been circulating much less, however there was additionally a lower in vaccination, with meningitis C vaccination falling by 20% throughout the first lockdown, for instance. So the inhabitants has grow to be naive when confronted with micro organism which are continually evolving – the bacterial genome is extremely variable.

“For the reason that pandemic, there was a selected resurgence in meningococcal serogroups W and Y in contrast with the opposite serogroups,” continues Ala-Eddine Deghmane, co-lead writer of the examine and Deputy Director of the Nationwide Reference Middle for Meningococci on the Institut Pasteur. “And though all age teams are involved, we discovered that these most affected by this new wave of meningitis are younger folks aged 16 to 24.” In different phrases, the meningococcal bacterial strains liable for IMD immediately are totally different from people who have been circulating earlier than the pandemic, they usually goal totally different age teams. “It’s virtually as if the COVID-19 epidemic has reset your entire system,” says Samy Taha.

This resurgence in meningitis might collect momentum within the coming months with the impact of seasonal influenza. The influenza virus creates a positive context for the event of meningococcal micro organism. All mass gatherings generally is a danger issue for an infection usually, and particularly for IMD.

In France, solely meningitis C vaccination is obligatory; vaccination for meningitis B is merely really helpful in infants. However there aren’t but any suggestions within the common inhabitants for serogroups Y and W. The scientists are subsequently in touch with the French Nationwide Authority for Well being to assist adapt the long run vaccine technique. “If the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine for serogroups A, C, Y and W have been to be really helpful for adolescents, it might present direct safety for them and in addition oblique safety for different classes of the inhabitants,” explains Ala-Eddine Deghmane. Adolescents are the primary wholesome carriers of meningococci. “We should keep in mind that with out therapy, the mortality charge for bacterial meningitis is just about 100%. Even with correct therapy, there may be nonetheless a ten% mortality charge. So vaccine prevention is essential,” concludes Muhamed-Kheir Taha.


Journal reference:

Taha, S., et al. (2023). The fast rebound of invasive meningococcal illness in France on the finish of 2022. Journal of An infection and Public Well being.

Emily Thompson

Dr. Emily Thompson is a highly respected medical professional and seasoned health journalist, contributing her expertise to our news website. With a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and over 15 years of experience in clinical practice, Dr. Thompson possesses a deep understanding of various health issues.
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