BMC INFECTIOUS DISEASES, vol.21, no.1, 2021 (SCI-Expanded)
Background Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) represents a global health burden. However, its epidemiology in the Eastern Mediterranean (EM) and North Africa (NA) regions is currently not well understood. This review had four key objectives: to describe asymptomatic meningococcal carriage, IMD epidemiology (e.g. serogroup prevalence, case-fatality rates [CFRs]), IMD presentation and management (e.g. clinical diagnosis, antibiotic treatments) and economic impact and evaluation (including health technology assessment [HTA] recommendations) in EM and NA. Methods A systematic literature search (MEDLINE and EMBASE) was conducted (January 2000 to February 2021). Search strings included meningococcal disease and the regions/countries of interest. Identified publications were screened sequentially by title/abstract, followed by screening of the full-text article; articles were also assessed on methodological quality. Literature reviews, genetic sequencing or diagnostic accuracy studies, or other non-pertinent publication type were excluded. An additional grey literature search (non-peer-reviewed sources; start date January 2000) was conducted to the end of April 2019. Results Of the 1745 publications identified, 79 were eligible for the final analysis (n = 61 for EM and n = 19 for NA; one study was relevant to both). Asymptomatic meningococcal carriage rates were 0-33% in risk groups (e.g. military personnel, pilgrims) in EM (no data in NA). In terms of epidemiology, serogroups A, B and W were most prevalent in EM compared with serogroups B and C in NA. IMD incidence was 0-20.5/100,000 in EM and 0.1-3.75/100,000 in NA (reported by 7/15 countries in EM and 3/5 countries in NA). CFRs were heterogenous across the EM, ranging from 0 to 57.9%, but were generally lower than 50%. Limited NA data showed a CFR of 0-50%. Data were also limited in terms of IMD presentation and management, particularly relating to clinical diagnosis/antibiotic treatment. No economic evaluation or HTA studies were found. Conclusions High-risk groups remain a significant reservoir of asymptomatic meningococcal carriage. It is probable that inadequacies in national surveillance systems have contributed to the gaps identified. There is consequently a pressing need to improve national surveillance systems in order to estimate the true burden of IMD and guide appropriate prevention and control programmes in these regions.