Young man from Dijon struck by meningitis: a dangerous strain

The young man died of a fulminant and deadly form of meningitis in the region of Dijon was victim of a strain W, a very dangerous strain of meningococcus. At the end of 2016, 3 cases of meningococcal meningitis W had triggered a massive vaccination campaign.

The Regional Health Agency (ARS) Bourgogne-Franche-Comté confirmed that the death of the 23-year-old, who was hit by a fulminant form of meningitis in December, is well linked to a very aggressive strain of meningococcus (strain W) .
A comparison of the strain with that in question during the 2016 epidemic on the campus of the University of Dijon will be carried out by the National Reference Center (CNR).

One year after a vaccination campaign

This young man was not a student, but his meningococcal infection occurred one year after 3 cases of meningococcal meningitis (serotype W), including 2 deaths, which occurred in Dijon students.
As the 3 students did not know each other, the possibility of contamination from a healthy carrier was raised, which triggered a massive vaccination campaign on the university campus in Dijon (14,000 students). The vaccine, used as a single dose, protects against four meningococcal strains (serotypes A, C, Y and W).

Meningococcal meningitis

In adults, meningitis most often results in an association of signs called "meningeal syndrome" with violent headache ("headache"), stiffness of the neck, high fever, intolerance to light. ("Photophobia") and nausea or vomiting.
Somnolence, mental confusion or even disturbances of consciousness may also appear, as well as localized neurological signs (ocular paralysis) and convulsions.

A fulminant form

The form that led to death is therefore a fulminant form of acute meningococcal meningitis (or invasive meningococcal disease (IMI)). Some meningococcal meningitis can, indeed, very quickly translate into signs of generalized infection ("acute meningococcemia") with sepsis. This is the case when a very serious "purpura fulminans" appears, with very rapid evolution, with hemorrhagic lesions of the skin.
In case of appearance anywhere on the skin haemorrhagic spots (bright red stained spots) or bruises (or "bruises"), do not disappear at the finger pressure, it may be a purpura that must call for help in extreme urgency.

Several hundred cases in France

In 2016, 526 invasive meningococcal infections were reported in France. In 2017, 19 cases were reported in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The majority of cases occur sporadically. Serogroup B was predominant (51.6%), followed by serogroup C (26.5%), serogroup Y (12.3%) and serogroup W (8.9%). Mortality was 12% for all cases. It is higher in France for serogroup W (24% in 2016).

Collective contamination

Meningococcus is a very fragile germ that does not survive in the environment but is transmitted by saliva.
Most meningitis is contracted under normal living conditions, unrelated to a hospitalization or medical procedure.
Living in a closed community, and especially being in contact with a person with meningitis, are factors contributing to the onset of the disease.

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