European public health policies for managing contacts of invasive meningococcal disease cases better harmonised in 2013 than in 2007

Euro Surveill. 2016;21(5):23-31. doi: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2016.21.5.30125.


In 2007, a European survey identified variation in country policies on public health management of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD). In 2009-10, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published evidence-based guidance on IMD. We therefore surveyed again European countries to describe policies for managing IMD cases and contacts in 2013. We asked national IMD public health experts from 32 European countries to complete a questionnaire focusing on post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for IMD contacts and meningococcal vaccination. Proportions in 2007 and 2013 were compared using the chi-squared test. All 32 countries responded, with responses from two regions for Belgium and Italy; half stated having used ECDC guidance to update national recommendations. PEP was recommended to close contacts in 33 of 34 countries/regions, mainly ciprofloxacin for adults (29/32 countries) and rifampicin for children (29/32 countries). ECDC guidance for managing IMD contacts in airplanes was strictly followed by five countries/regions. Twenty-three countries/regions participated in both surveys. Compared with 2007, in 2013, more countries/regions recommended i) ceftriaxone for children (15/23 vs 6/20; p = 0.03), ii) PEP for all children in the same preschool group (8/23 vs 17/23; p = 0.02). More countries/regions recommended evidence-based measures for IMD public health management in 2013 than 2007. However, some discrepancies remain and they call for further harmonisation.

Keywords: Public health policy; invasive meningococcal disease; post-exposure prophylaxis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Contact Tracing / methods*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Europe
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Meningococcal Infections / prevention & control*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Post-Exposure Prophylaxis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Public Health
  • Public Health Administration / methods*
  • Public Policy