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Three cases of meningococcal disease among adolescents in Interior Health

Two cases of meningococcal disease have been reported among students of one high school in Interior Health, and a third case recently identified in an older adolescent in the same community, occurring over a six week period beginning in late September.
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The older adolescent case occurred several weeks ago but was recently identified. ​

Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, which is carried in the throat of people who may have no symptoms, and rarely causes an infection in the blood or at other body sites, including meningitis.  

See the new Interior Health Public Service Announcement.

Antibiotics have been offered to people who were in close contact with cases.  This is done to clear an infection from the throat and prevent transmission within a tightly knit group such as a household. 

All students and staff of the school were offered meningococcal conjugate vaccine starting on November 10th to provide longer term protection than that afforded by antibiotics. The vaccine covers four types (serogroups) of the bacteria, including W, identified in all three cases.  

Because of the identification of this infection in an adolescent beyond high school age, Interior Health is expanding the offering of vaccine to young adults up to 24 years of age in Oliver, as well as those in this age group who have contact with the Oliver school community but who live in Osoyoos and Okanagan Falls. Clinics will be set up in Oliver and start on Saturday November 18th.

Meningococcal disease is rare in BC, and has become less common since immunization programs were implemented against serogroup C in 2003.  In September 2016, an additional immunization program started for grade 9 students using the four-strain vaccine province-wide; the current school year is the second year of this program.  

BC has not had an outbreak of meningococcal disease since 2001 in Abbotsford. That outbreak was due to serogroup C, and resulted in seven cases including two deaths among those aged 15-29 years.  Since 2008 and because of the childhood vaccination program, only a single case of serogroup C has been reported in BC in a person under 25 years old. 

Information about trends in meningococcal disease through 2015 is available in the Annual Summaries of Reportable Diseases in BC.

In more recent years

  • In 2016, nine cases of meningococcal disease were reported in BC, with no fatal outcomes. Five cases were due to serotype Y, two were due to serotype W, and two were due to serotype B. Three of the cases were younger than 20 years old, with one each due to serogroup B, W and Y.
  • In 2017, as of November 17th, 23 laboratory confirmed cases of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) have been reported to the BCCDC for an annual incidence rate of 0.48 cases per 100,000 population.  Fourteen cases were serogroup W, five serogroup Y, three serogroup B and one serogroup C.  The 14 serogroup W cases ranged in age from 0 to 97 years, with a median age of 32 years.  Seven of these cases were over 40 years of age, and six were aged 15-24 years.  The 14 serogroup W cases have occurred in four health authorities: eight in Interior Health, four in Fraser Health and one each in Vancouver Coastal Health and Island Health.
For more about meningococcal disease, see Immunize BC: 

Meningococcal disease
SOURCE: Three cases of meningococcal disease among adolescents in Interior Health ( )
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