Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Public Health England report decline in cases of invasive meningococcal disease in England

Andy Hopkinson | 31st October 2019

The latest report from Public Health England on invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) shows 525 cases between July last year to June this year, 30 per cent lower than the 754 cases for the same period the previous year

Public Health England report decline in cases of invasive meningococcal disease

There has been an overall decline in confirmed IMD cases over the last two decades from a peak of 2,595 in 1999-2000. Incidence has continued to decrease from two per 100,000 in 2006-07 to one per 100,000 since 2011-12.

Our chief executive Dr Tom Nutt, welcoming the publication of the latest figures, commented, “It is encouraging to see the number of cases of invasive meningococcal disease continuing to decline on an annual basis – something that is clearly driven by the success of our world-leading vaccination programme."

“There’s good news across the board, with incidence in infants decreasing generally and cases of MenB, MenW and MenY all down.”

But, he also cautioned against becoming complacent.

“Every day we hear devastating stories of the impact of meningitis on individuals and their families."

“Although these figures show we are moving in the right direction we still have a way to travel to achieve our vision, where no one dies from this disease and everyone affected gets the support they need."

“This news, good as it is, just spurs us on to greater effort to fight this disease.”

Echoing our current student campaign

The report also looks at vaccine coverage for MenB and MenACWY, which will continue to be monitored.

It says: “All teenage cohorts remain eligible for opportunistic MenACWY vaccination until their 25th birthday and it is important that these teenagers continue to be encouraged to be immunised, particularly if they are entering Higher Educations Institutions”, echoing our current student campaign

The full report, Invasive meningococcal disease in England: annual laboratory confirmed reports for epidemiological year 2018 to 2019, Health Protection Report Volume 13 Number 38, published on 29 October 2019 can be read here.

Some of the key data includes:

  • The initial decline in IMD cases was driven by the introduction of immunisation against group C (MenC) disease in 1999, which reduced MenC cases by approximately 96 per cent (to around 30-40 cases each year).
  • Incidence in infants decreased from 16 per 100,000 population in 2017-18 to 9/100,000 in 2018-19 (55/525 cases) and from 4/100,000 in children aged 1 to 4 years to 3/100,000 (74/525cases).
  • Young adults aged between 15 and 24 years accounted for 16 per cent (n=82; 1/100,000) of all laboratory confirmed IMD in 2018-19 and those aged 25 years or older comprised 49 per cent of cases (n=257; 1/100,000).
  • MenB accounted for 58 per cent (305/525) of all cases, followed by MenW (n=113, 22 per cent), MenY (n=59, 11 per cent) and MenC (n=43, 8 per cent). This was similar to the distribution in 2017-18; with 53 per cent MenB (403/754), 26 per cent MenW (n=194), 12 per cent MenY (n=88) and 8 per cent MenC (n=64).
  • In 2018-19, 305 individuals were confirmed with MenB, 24 per cent lower than the 403 cases in the previous year. MenB was responsible for the majority of IMD cases in individuals under 25 years of age: infants (80 per cent; 44/55), toddlers (80 per cent; 59/74) and young adults (82 per cent; 67/82). In line with previous years it contributed to a lower proportion (37 per cent, n =94/257) of cases in individuals aged 25+ years where other groups were more prevalent.
  • Annual MenW cases decreased by 42 per cent from 194 cases in 2017-18 to 113 cases in 2018-19 after peaking at 225 cases in 2016-17.
  • The number of MenC cases in 2018-19 were 33 per cent lower compared with 2017-18 (43 and 64 cases respectively). As previously reported, the number of MenC cases has gradually increased compared to recent years (average of 32 cases per annum between 2011-12 and 2015-16). 
  • MenY cases decreased by 33 per cent from 88 cases in 2017-18 to 59 cases in 2018-19. Adults aged 25 years and older accounted for most MenY cases (83 per cent; 49/59).

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