Editorials

Meningococcal disease and healthcare workers

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7218.1147 (Published 30 October 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1147

The risks to healthcare workers are very low

  1. Andrew J Pollard, clinical fellow (ajpollard@compuserve.com),
  2. Norman Begg, consultant epidemiologist
  1. Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, British Columbia's Children's Hospital and British Columbia Research Institute for Children's and Women's Health, Vancouver, BC V5Z 4H4, Canada
  2. PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, London NW9 5EQ

    Although Neisseria meningitidis is a relatively uncommon cause of overt infection (2580 notifications in 1998),1 the horrors of its clinical presentation have stimulated intense media interest, particularly after outbreaks. With the disappearance of many infectious competitors in the latter half of this century, meningococcal disease has become the leading infectious cause of death in childhood and is now the third most common cause of death in children outside infancy (after accidents and malignancy).2 The introduction in October 1999 of a serogroup C protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccine for children and young adults has the potential to reduce significantly the incidence of disease.3 Nevertheless, most cases are caused by serogroup B meningococci, for which no vaccine is available, and the disease will remain prevalent in the United Kingdom. As a result of the dramatic presentation of cases and the high fatality rate the perceived risk of meningococcal disease is high among those who have had …

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