Meningococcemia risk factors

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-In-Chief: Cafer Zorkun, M.D., Ph.D. [2], Ammu Susheela, M.D. [3]

Overview

Risk factors of meningococcemia include age group of infants or old age, closed communities, seasons of winter and early spring, complement deficiency, asplenia and travel to endemic regions especially sub-Saharan African meningitis belt.

Risk Factors

  • Certain groups of people are at increased risk for meningococcal disease.
  • Episodic epidemic nature of meningococcal meningitis particularly among young children and military recruits was known since the 18th century.
  • Epidemics occur generally among poorest groups where crowding and lack of sanitation are common.
  • The bacteria can be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets.
  • Family members and those closely exposed to someone with the condition are at increased risk.
  • The infection occurs more frequently in winter and early spring.
  • For some of these groups, there are recommended vaccines that prevent two of the three major serogroups ("strains") of Neisseria meningitidis bacteria that cause most illness in the United States

Age

  • Adolescents and young adults 16 through 21 years of age have higher rates of meningococcal disease.
  • Infants are also at higher risk for meningococcal disease.
  • More than 50% of meningococcal disease in children 0-6 months is caused by serogroup B; serogroup Y is also more prevalent in this age group.

Medical Conditions

Community Setting as a Risk Factor

  • College students, especially first-year college students living in residence halls, are at a slightly increased risk for meningococcal disease compared with other persons of the same age.
  • Closed communities such as prisons have a high incidence of meningococcal infections

Travel

  • Travelers to the meningitis belt in sub-Saharan Africa may be at risk for meningococcal disease, particularly during the dry season.

Risk Factors for Epidemics

  • Several conditions have been associated with development of epidemics in meningococcal belt.
  • They include the following.
  • Medical conditions: Immunological susceptibility of the population.
  • Demographic conditions: Travel and large population displacements.
  • Socioeconomic conditions: Poor living conditions and overcrowded housing.
  • Climatic conditions: Drought and dust storms.[1]

References

  1. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)".

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