Deciphering the Burden of Meningococcal Disease: Conventional and Under-recognized Elements

J Adolesc Health. 2016 Aug;59(2 Suppl):S12-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.03.041.


Invasive meningococcal disease remains a substantial global public health burden despite being vaccine-preventable worldwide. More than one million cases are reported annually, with average fatality rates ranging from 10% to 40% depending on clinical presentation and geographic location. Survivors may suffer debilitating sequelae that reduce the quality of life for the patient and family members responsible for their care. Major financial burdens are associated with acute treatment and follow-up care, and outbreak management often places extensive financial strains on public health resources. Although the clinical and financial aspects of meningococcal disease burden are straightforward to quantify, other burdens such as lifelong cognitive deficits, psychological stress, adaptive measures for reintegration into society, familial impact, and legal costs are systematically overlooked. These and other facets of disease burden are therefore not systematically considered in cost-effectiveness analyses that public health authorities take into consideration when making decisions regarding vaccination programs. Changing the approach for measuring meningococcal disease burden is necessary to accurately understand the societal consequences of this devastating illness. In this article, the conventional and under-recognized burdens of meningococcal disease are presented and discussed.

Keywords: Disease burden; Meningococcal disease; Societal consequences.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Developed Countries / economics
  • Developing Countries / economics
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Global Burden of Disease / economics*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Meningococcal Infections / economics*
  • Meningococcal Infections / mortality
  • Meningococcal Infections / physiopathology
  • Meningococcal Vaccines / economics
  • Public Health / economics*
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors


  • Meningococcal Vaccines