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Arch Intern Med. 1999 Oct 25;159(19):2329-40.

Meningococcal disease in a large urban population (Barcelona, 1987-1992): predictors of dismal prognosis. Barcelona Meningococcal Disease Surveillance Group.

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CAP Gràcia, Institut Català de la Salut, Barcelona, Spain.



Studies on meningococcal disease in large urban communities have rarely been performed and are usually based on passive epidemiologic surveillance. Active surveillance may provide new insights.


To determine epidemiologic, clinical, and bacteriological characteristics and predictors of dismal prognosis (death and sequelae) in meningococcal disease.


Prospective, population-based study.


All the acute care hospitals (n = 24) in Barcelona, Spain.


The 643 patients whose conditions were diagnosed from 1987 through 1992 were detected by 2 active surveillance methods.


Incidence and notification to Public Health Service. Clinical and bacteriological features were determined. Dismal prognosis predictors were determined by logistic regression.


Average annual incidence was 6.41 per 100,000 inhabitants, with no clear trend of change (P = .08). Sensitivity of the Public Health Service surveillance system was 69.1%. Children younger than 10 years from the inner city were at higher risk than those from the highest income district (relative risk, 3.00; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.84-5.06). Increasing annual incidence of serogroup C (0.82-1.29/100,000; P = .008) and decreasing incidence of serogroup B (5.11-2.82/100,000; P = .004) was noted. Average annual mortality was 0.40 per 100,000 inhabitants, while the annual average potential years of life lost was 18 per 100,000 inhabitants. Overall case-fatality rate was 6.4%. Independent predictors of death were hemorrhagic diathesis (odds ratio [OR], 63; 95% CI, 21-194), focal neurologic signs (OR, 10; 95% CI, 3-30), and age 60 years or older (OR, 6; 95% CI, 2-17), whereas preadmission antibiotic therapy was associated with favorable outcome (OR, 0.07; 95% CI, 0.02-0.3). Four percent of survivors presented with sequelae. Independent predictors of sequelae were hemorrhagic diathesis (OR, 21; 95% CI, 3-131), focal neurologic signs (OR, 16; 95% CI, 5-53), age 60 years or older (OR, 7; 95% CI, 2-26), and age between 15 and 59 years (OR, 5; 95% CI, 2-14), whereas preadmission antibiotic therapy had a protective effect (OR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.04-0.5).


Active epidemiologic surveillance significantly improved detection of cases and allowed us to observe that meningococcal disease still causes much morbidity and mortality, especially among children living in the inner city. Hemorrhagic diathesis, focal neurologic signs, and age were independent predictors of dismal prognosis, whereas preadmission antibiotic therapy had a protective effect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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