Clusters of meningococcal disease in school and preschool settings in England and Wales: What is the risk?

K. L. Davison*, Nicholas Andrews, Joanne White, Mary Ramsay, N. S. Crowcroft, A. A. Rushdy, Edward Kaczmarski, P. N. Monk, J. M. Stuart

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    Aims: To assess the risk of further cases in educational settings in order to inform policy on managing cases and clusters of meningococcal disease. Methods: Between 1 April 1995 and 31 March 2001, surveillance in preschool and school settings in England and Wales identified 114 clusters of meningococcal disease. Twenty clusters were reported in preschool settings, 43 in primary, 46 in secondary, and five in independent schools. Seventy three clusters (64%) consisted of two or more confirmed cases, of which 30 had mo two or more serogroup C cases. Following the introduction of the national meningococcal serogroup C vaccination progmmme in 1999, no serogroup C clusters were observed between April 2000 and March 2001. Results: The relative risk of further cases in the four weeks after a single case compared with the background rate was raised in all settings, ranging from RR 27.6 (95% CI 15.2 to 39.9) in preschool settings to RR 3.6 (95% CI 2.5 to 4.6) in secondary schools. Absolute risk estimates ranged from 70/100 000 in preschool settings to 3.0/100 000 in secondary schools. The relative risk of clustering was similar for serogroup B and C strains. Most (68%) second cases occurred within seven days of the first case. Conclusions: Although there was a higher risk of further cases of meningococcal disease in schools and especially in preschool settings, it is not known whether widespread antibiotic use after single cases reduces risk of further cases and if there is a real risk of harm. Evidence of risk reduction is needed to inform public health policy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)256-260
    Number of pages5
    JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


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