Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Prevention of secondary cases of meningococcal disease in household contacts by vaccination.

Br Med J 1978; 1 doi: (Published 20 May 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;1:1317
  1. B M Greenwood,
  2. M Hassan-King,
  3. H C Whittle


    Household contacts of patients with group A meningococcal infection were vaccinated with either meningococcal vaccine or tetanus toxoid. Five of the 523 subjects who received tetanus toxoid developed meningococcal meningitis and another four probably had meningococcal disease. Only one possible case of meningococcal infection occurred among 520 contacts vaccinated with meningococcal vaccine. Vaccination had no effect on nasopharyngeal carriage of meningococci. Vaccination of household contacts of patients with group A meningococcal infections is an effective way of using limited supplies of meningococcal vaccine, though its value would be limited in an epidemic. Secondary cases of meningococcal infection often occur within a few days of the index case, and, although vaccine alone seemed to provide adequate prophylaxis in these Nigerian subjects, additional chemoprophylaxis may be needed to cover this critical period.