Aim: The aim of this paper is to describe the risk factors for invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) in southern Queensland.
Methods: A case control study during the calendar years 2000-2001 was undertaken.
Results: Eighty-four laboratory-confirmed cases of IMD were notified. Four patients died and were excluded from the present study. Sixty-two (78%) eligible cases and 79 controls selected from the same age group and medical practice as cases, were interviewed. Univariate analysis found that IMD was associated with sharing bedrooms with two or more people (odds ratio (OR) 4.3; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2-17.0, P = 0.01), any exposure to tobacco smoke (smoker or passive exposure; OR 2.3; 95% CI 1.1-4.8, P = 0.02), passive exposure to tobacco smoke (OR 2.4; 95% CI 1.0-5.6, P = 0.03) and recent upper respiratory tract infection (OR 1.9, 95% CI 0.9-4.1, P = 0.06). Children who were breast-fed were less likely to develop IMD (OR 0.3; 95% CI 0.1-1.1, P = 0.04). Attendance at a childcare centre was not associated with an increased risk of IMD. In multivariate analysis, IMD was associated with children under 6 years of age who shared a bedroom with two or more people (OR 7.4; 95% CI 1.5-36.1, P = 0.01) or who had a primary carer who smoked (OR 9.1; 95% CI 2.1-39.9, P = 0.003).
Discussion: This is the second Australian study that identifies links between risk of IMD and exposure to cigarette smoke. The risk of IMD in young children could be further reduced if primary caregivers did not smoke. This information may contribute a new perspective to antismoking campaigns.