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Open Access Research article

African meningitis belt pneumococcal disease epidemiology indicates a need for an effective serotype 1 containing vaccine, including for older children and adults

Bradford D Gessner1*, Judith E Mueller1 and Seydou Yaro2

Author Affiliations

1 Agence de Médecine Préventive, 25-28 Rue du Dr. Roux, Paris, 75728, France

2 Centre Muraz, BP 390, Bobo-Dioulasso, 01, Burkina Faso

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:22  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-22

Published: 10 February 2010

Abstract

Background

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine strategies in GAVI-eligible countries are focusing on infant immunization but this strategy may not be optimal in all settings. We aimed to collect all available population based data on pneumococcal meningitis throughout life in the African meningitis belt and then to model overall meningitis risk to help inform vaccine policy.

Methods

After a systematic review of literature published from 1970 through the present, we found robust population-based Streptococcus pneumoniae (Sp) meningitis data across age strata for four African meningitis belt countries that included 35 surveillance years spanning from 1970 to 2005. Using these data we modeled disease risk for a hypothetical cohort of 100,000 persons followed throughout life.

Results

Similar to meningococcal meningitis, laboratory-confirmed pneumococcal meningitis was seasonal, occurring primarily in the dry season. The mean annual Sp meningitis incidence rates were 98, 7.8 to 14, and 5.8 to 12 per 100,000 among persons <1, 1 through 19, and 20 to 99 years of age, respectively, which (in the absence of major epidemics) were higher than meningococcal meningitis incidences for persons less than 1 and over 20 years of age. Mean Sp meningitis case fatality ratios (CFR) among hospitalized patients ranged from 36-66% depending on the age group, with CFR exceeding 60% for all age groups beyond 40 years; depending on the age group, Sp meningitis mortality incidences were 2 to 12-fold greater than those for meningococcal meningitis. The lifetime risks of pneumococcal meningitis disease and death were 0.6% (1 in 170) and 0.3% (1 in 304), respectively. The incidences of these outcomes were highest among children age <1 year. However, the cumulative risk was highest among persons age 5 to 59 years who experienced 59% of pneumococcal meningitis outcomes. After age 5 years and depending on the country, 59-79% of meningitis cases were caused by serotype 1.

Conclusions

In the African meningitis belt, Sp is as important a cause of meningitis as Neisseria meningitidis, particularly among older children and working age adults. The meningitis belt population needs an effective serotype 1 containing vaccine and policy discussions should consider vaccine use outside of early childhood.