Health Professionals

Clinical Updates

21 November 2012

Meningococcal meningitis: Chile

The Ministry of Health, Chile has reported an increased number of cases of meningococcal meningitis in 2012. The most recent outbreak is caused by serogroup W135. 

As of 17 November, 48 cases with 10 deaths have been confirmed throughout the country, compared to 21 cases reported for the whole of 2011 [1-2]. Half of the cases (24) reported during 2012 are in children aged under 5 years, but cases have been reported in the age range 3 to 93 years. Most of the cases and deaths (39 cases with 7 deaths) have been reported from Metropolitan Region (Santiago) [1-2]. Valparaiso Region reported only three cases of serogroup W135 between 1 January and 17 November 2012 [1, 3]. Cases have been reported in four other regions: Arica and Parinacota (one), Antofagasta (one), La Araucania (two) and Los Lagos (two)[1].

The Ministry of Health, Chile has strengthened surveillance, identification of meningococcal disease and case contact measures and is promoting a public health strategy including general respiratory hygiene measures [2].  An immunisation campaign, targeting children aged 9 months to 5 years has commenced in Metropolitan Region and Valparaiso of Santiago, Chile [4]. The campaign will be expanded to include the Chilean regions of Arica, Antofagasta, Araucanía and Los Lagos by early December 2012, with a roll out to the whole country during 2013 [1, 4].

Advice for travellers

Meningococcal meningitis is transmitted via the respiratory route, often in crowded conditions or during close contact with infected persons. Most travellers are at low risk. Those at higher risk include children aged under 5 years, healthcare workers, those visiting friends and relatives and long stay travellers who will have close contact with the local population.

Those travelling to Metropolitan Region (Santiago) and assessed to be at higher risk may wish to consider vaccination with the quadrivalent meningococcal meningitis ACW135Y vaccine. 

Information on health risks for travellers to Chile can be found on the NaTHNaC Country Information Page.

References

1. Ministerio de Salud. Gobierno de Chile. Departmento de Epidemiologica. Situación Enfermedad Meningocócica por Serogrupo w-135 (desde el 01/01/2012 al 17/11/2012).

 [In Spanish]. [Accessed 21 November, 2012]. Available at:  http://epi.minsal.cl/epi/html/bolets/reportes/Meningitis/W135

_Web_SE46A.pdf

2. Ministerio de Salud. Gobierno de Chile. Departmento de Epidemiologica. Situación Enfermedad Meningocócica por Serogrupo w-135 (desde el 01/01/2012 al 10/11/2012). [In Spanish]. [Accessed 21 November, 2012]. Available at: http://epi.minsal.cl/epi/html/bolets/reportes/Meningitis/EM_SE

_452012.pdf

3. Ministerio de Salud. Gobierno de Chile. Departmento de Epidemiologica. Situación Enfermedad Meningocócica por Serogrupo w-135 (desde el 01/01/2012 al 3/11/2012). [In Spanish]. [Accessed 21 November, 2012]. Available at: http://epi.minsal.cl/epi/html/bolets/reportes/Meningitis/EM_SE

442012.pdf

4. Ministerio de Salud. Gobierno de Chile. Plan de Acción W-135. [In Spanish]. [Accessed 21 November, 2012]. Available at: http://www.minsal.gob.cl/portal/url/page/minsalcl/g_varios/

boletin/meningitis/page_1.html

Links

Health Protection Agency: Meningococcal disease

Meningitis Research Foundation

NaTHNaC Health Information Sheet: Meningococcal