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National surveillance of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) is based on mandatory reporting. The case definition for surveillance notification was changed in mid-2002 to include cases without microbiological confirmation. The IMD alert detection system was enhanced in 2003 with daily reporting and weekly analysis by district, serogroup, and age. Evaluation of the exhaustivity of the surveillance with capture-recapture analysis allowed correcting for underreporting. In 2003, 803 cases were reported. After correction for under-reporting, the estimated incidence was 1.78 / 100 000. After excluding ‘new’ cases reported with new definition criteria, the 2002-2003 increase was 4%. Incidence decreased with age, with the highest values in infants less than 1 year (20/100 000), children aged between 1 and 2 years (11/100 000) and in teenagers of 17 years old(7/100 000). The overall case fatality rate was 12%. Fifty nine per cent of cases were due to serogroup B, 32% to C, 5% to W135, and 4% to Y and non-groupable meningococci. Patients with purpura fulminans treated with intravenous antibiotics before admission to hospital were shown to have lower fatality rates than those not treated. In 2001-2003, 5 situations required particular attention: two clusters of serogroup B IMD had set off mass prophylaxis, one outbreak due to a specific B IMD clonal complex with high case fatality rate, and two districts crossed the alert threshold for serogroup C IMD, 2/100 000, and mass vaccination was recommended.


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