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February 1, 1995

The Worldwide Prevention of Meningococcal InfectionStill an Elusive Goal

Author Affiliations

From the Department of International Health, The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Md.

JAMA. 1995;273(5):419-421. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520290071032

Few organisms evoke more fear among the public than Neisseria meningitidis, particularly when it occurs in outbreaks and epidemics. The meningococcus is among a limited number of endemic pathogens in industrialized nations that can kill a healthy young adult within several hours. Large epidemics of N meningitidis infection occurred in the United States until 1944 and still occur in the nonindustrialized world. Attack rates can approach 1% and millions of cases can occur during a meningococcal epidemic.1

The meningococcus is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis and bacteremia in the United States. An estimated 2600 cases occur each year, almost half among children 2 years old and younger.2 The annual incidence of meningococcal infection is approximately one case per 100 000 population. Survivors of meningococcal infection often suffer severe sequelae.3 The meningococcus has taken on an increased relative importance in the United States since the decline of

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