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Epidemiol Infect. 2001 Apr;126(2):211-7.

Risk factors for meningococcal disease in university halls of residence.

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PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (South West), Public Health Laboratory, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Gloucester.


A retrospective ecological study was undertaken to identify social and environmental factors associated with increased incidence of meningococcal disease in university halls of residence. A standardized questionnaire was sent to UK universities and colleges of higher education outside London, for distribution to halls containing at least 50 students. Incidence rate ratios of invasive meningococcal disease were obtained for a range of social and environmental variables. Multi-variable Poisson regression analysis identified 3 factors as having a strong association: a high proportion of first year undergraduate residents (P = 0.0008), decreasing smokiness of the hall bar (P < 0.0001), and opening of hall bar before 1990 (P = 0.0001). The inverse relationship between disease incidence and smokiness of bars was an unexpected finding, and may be due to confounding factors. Universities should continue to promote awareness of meningococcal disease, encourage vaccination of first year students against serogroup C disease, and where appropriate, take measures to reduce overcrowding.

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