Opportunities for Control of Meningococcal Disease in the United States
The United States currently has relatively low rates of meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis. Serogroups Y, C, and B are most common. Although most cases are sporadic, a minority are associated with outbreaks. Pediatric populations have disproportionately higher rates of disease, but nearly two thirds of all cases occur in persons aged 15 years and older. The major challenge to control of domestic meningococcal disease is the absence of a vaccine to prevent sporadic cases spanning many age groups. The quadrivalent A/C/Y/W-135 meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine is licensed in the United States, but because of its limited efficacy in children under two years of age, it is recommended for high-risk groups and outbreak response rather than routine childhood immunization. New conjugate meningococcal vaccines have successfully reduced endemic disease in the United Kingdom, and similar vaccines promise to have a dramatic impact on the burden of meningococcal disease in the United States.