Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (638)

Seán Crowe

Question:

752 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people who have been diagnosed with meningitis in each health board area for each of the past three years. [1934/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

There are two forms of meningitis, namely, bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis. Viral meningitis tends to be a milder disease than bacterial meningitis. The number of cases of bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis notified to the National Disease Surveillance Centre by health board area over the past three years is presented in tables 1 and 2, respectively.

Table 1. Number of cases of bacterial meningitis by health board area, 2001 to 2003, inclusive.

Health Board

2001

2002

2003*

ERHA

139

108

91

MHB

26

24

20

MWHB

31

32

28

NEHB

28

27

25

NWHB

20

16

9

SEHB

49

26

37

SHB

69

47

52

WHB

34

17

13

Total

396

297

275

*2003 figures still provisional

Table 2. Number of cases of viral meningitis by health board area, 2001-2003 inclusive

Health Board

2001

2002

2003*

ERHA

93

23

21

MHB

13

0

1

MWHB

9

1

0

NEHB

11

4

0

NWHB

5

2

1

SEHB

12

1

4

SHB

13

2

3

WHB

5

3

1

Total

161

36

31

*2003 figures still provisional

There has been a steady decline in the number of bacterial meningitis, including meningococcal septicaemia, cases notified each year since 2000, when 586 cases were reported nationally. This decline can largely be attributed to the success of the meningococcal group C — men C — vaccination campaign which commenced in 2000. In 2000, 139 cases of group C meningococcal disease were notified in Ireland. This declined to 35 in 2001, 14 in 2002 and just five group C cases in 2003. This represents an overall reduction of 96% in the number of group C cases notified in 2003, compared to 2000.

Following the increase in viral meningitis activity in 2000 and 2001, activity returned to baseline levels, namely, the level of activity normally expected, in 2002 and 2003. I understand from the National Disease Surveillance Centre that the higher than usual level of activity for viral meningitis in 2000-01 was also reported by the United Kingdom at the time. The increase in viral meningitis activity was attributed to certain strains of enteroviruses in circulation at that time.