Guidelines for the early clinical and public health management of meningococcal disease in Australia - Revised Edition 2007

The aims of the Guidelines are to assist primary care practitioners with the emergency management of cases of suspected invasive meningococcal disease; and to assist public health practitioners with the prevention of further cases after a case of invasive meningococcal disease has been reported.

Page last updated: 06 February 2009

Prepared by Communicable Diseases Network Australia
Published by Commonwealth Department of Health

Synopsis

Invasive infection with Neisseria meningitidis (the meningococcus) occurs in endemic and epidemic forms. In Australia epidemic disease has not occurred for many years; endemic disease is at low levels of incidence and cases are generally unrelated to each other. Despite this, invasive meningococcal disease is of public health importance, is frequently a cause of public alarm and receives a high level of media attention. Responding to cases places heavy demands on clinical and public health disease control services. The primary aim of the Guidelines is to assist practitioners in meeting these demands.

The Guidelines were developed by consensus by the Meningococcal Disease Committee (MDC), a sub committee of the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA). CDNA has reviewed and endorsed the document.

In developing the Guidelines, the Meningococcal Disease Committee considered the literature, practices and published recommendations in Australia and overseas. On many issues there is limited published evidence to guide best practice. Public health interventions for invasive meningococcal disease are frequently required urgently, yet the evidence base for many of the interventions that are commonly applied is lacking. Often decisions must be guided by extrapolation from situations where evidence exists.

The Guidelines are intended primarily:
  • to assist primary care practitioners with the emergency management of cases of suspected invasive meningococcal disease; and
  • to assist public health practitioners with the prevention of further cases after a case of invasive meningococcal disease has been reported.
The Guidelines are not, and cannot be, exhaustive and do not cover every possible eventuality but aim to provide guidance on situations frequently encountered in practice.

Topics covered in the Guidelines include:
  • emergency management of suspected invasive meningococcal disease in general practice;
  • early (emergency department) hospital management of suspected invasive meningococcal disease;
  • laboratory tests and their use;
  • public health management of sporadic cases of invasive meningococcal disease;
  • public health management of outbreaks of cases of invasive meningococcal disease; and
  • reporting and public health surveillance of meningococcal disease.

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Health Emergency Management Branch, Australian Government Department of Health

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