Epidemiology and Infection

Prevention of secondary cases of meningococcal disease in Denmark

S. SAMUELSSON a1c1, E. T. HANSEN a2, M. OSLER a3 and B. JEUNE a4
a1 Department of Epidemiology, Statens Serum Institut, Artillerivej 5, DK-2300 Copenhagen
a2 Department of Medical Officers of Health, Copenhagen County and Frederiksberg
a3 Institute of Public Health, University of Copenhagen
a4 Section of Epidemiology, University of Southern Denmark


Close contacts of cases of meningococcal disease are at increased risk of disease themselves. We identified household-like contacts of index cases, to investigate whether relevant target groups are informed, receive and follow recommended chemoprophylaxis and vaccination, and to ascertain the time delay for implementation of these measures. A telephone interview of 172 households of index cases and a questionnaire survey among 634 parents of contacts of cases in institutions were carried out. Results were compared with reports from Medical Officers of Health. In 21% of the cases, Medical Officers reported fewer household-like contacts than were identified in this study. Written information was effective. However, 59% of households, and 36% of parents of contacts in institutions felt a lack of information about how the disease is acquired, the risk and signs of illness. For household-like contacts the coverage rate for chemoprophylaxis with an appropriate drug was 90% and for vaccination 59%. No secondary cases occurred among those treated with chemoprophylaxis, but among those not treated, there were two secondary cases. The study design provided a useful audit methodology to evaluate the completeness of implementation and the success of prophylactic measures for meningococcal disease.

(Accepted January 25 2000)

c1 Author for correspondence.