Declining Incidence of Invasive Meningococcal Disease in South Africa: 2003–2016

14 Jul 2020

Background. Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) is endemic to South Africa, where vaccine use is negligible. We describe the epidemiology of IMD in South Africa. Methods. IMD cases were identified through a national, laboratory-based surveillance program, GERMS-SA, from 2003–2016. Clinical data on outcomes and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) statuses were available from 26 sentinel hospital sites. We conducted space-time analyses to detect clusters of serogroup-specific IMD cases. Results. Over 14 years, 5249 IMD cases were identified. The incidence was 0.97 cases per 100 000 persons in 2003, peaked at 1.4 cases per 100 000 persons in 2006, and declined to 0.23 cases per 100 000 persons in 2016. Serogroups were confirmed in 3917 (75%) cases: serogroup A was present in 4.7% of cases, B in 23.3%, C in 9.4%; W in 49.5%; Y in 12.3%, X in 0.3%; Z in 0.1% and 0.4% of cases were non-groupable. We identified 8 serogroup-specific, geo-temporal clusters of disease. Isolate susceptibility was 100% to ceftriaxone, 95% to penicillin, and 99.9% to ciprofloxacin. The in-hospital case-fatality rate was 17% (247/1479). Of those tested, 36% (337/947) of IMD cases were HIV-coinfected. The IMD incidence in HIV-infected persons was higher for all age categories, with an age-adjusted relative risk ratio (aRRR) of 2.5 (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.2–2.8; P < .001) from 2012–2016. No patients reported previous meningococcal vaccine exposure. Patients with serogroup W were 3 times more likely to present with severe disease than those with serogroup B (aRRR 2.7, 95% CI 1.1–6.3); HIV coinfection was twice as common with W and Y diseases (aRRR W = 1.8, 95% CI 1.1–2.9; aRRR Y = 1.9, 95% CI 1.0–3.4). Conclusions. In the absence of significant vaccine use, IMD in South Africa decreased by 76% from 2003–2016. HIV was associated with an increased risk of IMD, especially for serogroup W and Y diseases.