A new paper Prevention and control of meningococcal disease: updates from the Global Meningococcal Initiative in Eastern Europe has been published in the Journal of Infection.
The Global Meningococcal Initiative (GMI) is an international group of renowned scientists and clinicians whose expertise encompasses meningococcal clinical practice, epidemiology, immunology, public health, vaccinology, manufacturing, microbiology, and heath economics.
In many countries, meningococcal bacteria are the leading cause of life-threatening meningitis and septicaemia. The GMI and MRF are in partnership to promote and share world class research into best practice about prevention, diagnosis and treatment of meningococcal disease around the world.
Across Eastern Europe, Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD) surveillance is largely in place, and overall incidence of IMD has declined in many countries in recent decades. The paper reports that the predominating serogroups are B, C, and A while MenW, Y and X are emerging as causes of disease. Meningitis can spread more easily when people gather in large groups and some cases of MenX have been linked to refugee movement.
For many Eastern European countries, vaccines are not available through national immunisation programmes, but instead provided to those at risk, such as the immunocompromised, and the elderly. Outbreaks of IMD have been seen in recent years in Kazakhstan, which makes the introduction of routine vaccine introduction even more important to prevent such outbreaks from occurring in the future.
The paper acknowledges some of the on-going challenges in the management and surveillance of IMD with antibiotic resistance and emergence of new strains. The initiatives that could help overcome such issues include expanding the use of genomic analyses. The study cites the success of the MRF’s Meningococcal Genome Library and the plans to now develop a global genome library as part of the Global Roadmap.