OBJECTIVE: Case-based surveillance of bacterial meningitis in sentinel districts has been recommended after the introduction of the conjugated vaccine against Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A (NmA), MenAfriVac, in the African meningitis belt. Here we report data and lessons learnt from four years of surveillance in the district of Moissala, Chad.
METHODS: All suspected cases of meningitis were referred free of charge to the district hospital for lumbar puncture and treatment. Cerebrospinal fluid samples were tested with Pastorex latex agglutination in Moissala, and inoculated trans-isolate media were used for culture and PCR at the national reference laboratory and/or at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
RESULTS: From July 2012 to December 2016, 237 suspected cases of meningitis were notified, and a specimen was collected from 224. Eighty-three samples were positive for a bacterial pathogen by culture, PCR or Pastorex, including 58 cases due to Streptococcus pneumoniae with only 28 of 49 pneumococcal meningitis confirmed by culture or PCR correctly identified by Pastorex. Four cases of NmA were detected by Pastorex, but none were confirmed by PCR.
CONCLUSION: Implementation of case-based surveillance for meningitis is feasible in Chad, but has required political and technical engagement. Given the high proportion of S. pneumoniae and its poor detection by Pastorex, continued use of PCR is warranted for surveillance outside of outbreaks, and efforts to accelerate the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines are needed. Introduction of MenAfriVac in routine immunisation and future availability of a pentavalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine will be key elements for the sustained reduction in meningitis outbreaks in the area.
© 2017 The Authors. Tropical Medicine & International Health Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.