a1 PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ
a2 Public Health Laboratory, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Great Western Road, Gloucester GL1 3NN
a3 PHLS Statistics Unit, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ
Although viral respiratory tract infections may predispose to meningococcal disease, strong evidence that they do so exists only for influenza. Data on laboratory reported cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections and meningococcal disease in England and Wales from mid-1989 to mid-1994 were analysed. Although the rise in RSV cases preceded the rise in meningococcal disease cases each winter, the interval between the rise and fall of the two diseases was inconsistent, no association was found between time series after removal of the seasonal component, and there was no evidence that more cases of meningococcal disease occurred in winters with more RSV disease. RSV may have less effect on the two most likely mechanisms whereby influenza predisposes to meningococcal disease, namely lowered immunity and impaired pharyngeal defences.
(Accepted March 06 1996)