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Neurol Res. 2010 Apr;32(3):263-71. doi: 10.1179/016164110X12644252260754.

Epidemiology of meningococcal disease in Latin America: current situation and opportunities for prevention.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Santa Casa de São Paulo School of Medicine, São Paulo, Brazil.



Meningococcal disease continues to be a serious public health concern, being associated with high morbidity and mortality rates in many countries from Latin America. In addition to discussing recent changes in the epidemiology of meningococcal disease in the region, we also analyse the development and potential impact of new vaccines on the prevention of meningococcal disease.


MEDLINE, SciELO, LILACS and websites of the national Ministries of Health databases were searched using the terms meningococcal disease, meningococcal epidemiology, Neisseria meningitidis, meningococcal vaccines and the name of Latin America countries, from 1998 to 2008, with emphasis on review articles, clinical trials and epidemiological studies.


Epidemiology of meningococcal disease in Latin America is characterized by marked differences from country to country. The overall incidence of meningococcal disease per year varied from less than 0.1 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in countries like Mexico to two cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Brazil. The highest age-specific incidence of meningococcal disease occurred in infants less than 1 year of age. Serogroups B and C were responsible for the majority of cases reported, but the emergence of serogroups W135 and Y was reported in some countries. Serogroup A disease is now rare in Latin America.


Although a few countries have established meningitis surveillance programs, the information is not uniform, and the quality of the reported data is poor in the majority of the region. The availability of new effective meningococcal conjugate vaccines and promising protein-based vaccine candidates against meningococcus B highlights the importance of a better understanding of the true burden of meningococcal disease in Latin America and also the need for cost-effectiveness studies before incorporating the new meningococcal vaccines to national immunization programs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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