IDR - Immune Diagnostics & Research

Emerging Problems in Infectious Diseases

Epidemiology of meningococcal disease in the Panamanian pediatric population, 1998-2008

Javier Nieto-Guevara, Kathia Luciani, Abian Montesdeoca-Melían, Mercedes Mateos-Durán

Instituto Conmemorativo Gorgas de Estudios de la Salud, Panama



Introduction: Worldwide public health authorities report 500,000 cases of invasive meningococcal disease with 50,000 deaths per year and 10-15% of sequelae in people affected. This study describes the epidemiology, microbiology, and clinical presentation of this disease in the Panamanian pediatric population.

Methodology:  The discharge of patients with a meningococcal invasive disease diagnosis was reviewed in the statistical database and archives of the Hospital del Niño.

Results: A total of 32 discharges with a meningococcal disease diagnosis were reported during the study period (1998-2008).  Ninety-one percent (n/N = 29/32) were confirmed as meningitis. The mean age of patients was 4.1 ± 4.6 years. The incidence in the period of the study was 0.25/100,000. Infants younger than one year old presented the highest incidence rate and number of cases. Four deaths were reported, three of which occurred in the group of 10-14 years and one in the group of 1-4 years. The overall fatality rate was 12.5%. The serogroup of the causative agent, Neisseria meningitidis, was documented in 30 of the 32 cases, with serogroup B the most frequent (66.7%). Ninety-percent (18/20) of serogroup B were isolated in the first five years of study. Serogroup C was identified in 8 of the 12 cases during the period 2004-2008.

Conclusions: The present study showed a change in the epidemiological circulation pattern from serogroup B to serogroup C during the study period. Such epidemiological surveillance data is important in the implementation of preventive measures such as vaccination.


epidemiology; children; N.meningitidis; serogroup; Panama

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