Paris 2024 Olympic Games: invasive meningococcal infections, the risk of large gatherings

Paris 2024 Olympic Games: invasive meningococcal infections, the risk of large gatherings

JO de Paris 2024 : infections invasives à méningocoques, le risque des grands rassemblements

Les Jeux olympiques et paralympiques 2024 à Paris, avec plus de seize millions de visiteurs attendus, augmenteront le risque de propagation des méningocoques. La recrudescence des cas en France, avec 560 cas en 2023 et déjà plus de 180 en 2024, rend la situation critique.

French experts are warning, and encouraging us to take advantage of the recent advances in vaccination against invasive meningococcal infections to raise public awareness of this effective means of prevention.

The French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs has just reported an increase in cases of meningococcal meningitis among unvaccinated people returning from the pilgrimage to Mecca, a high-risk event for the spread of invasive meningococcal infections ( IMM). The ministry reminds on this occasion that quadrivalent vaccination (ACWY) is obligatory to travel to Mecca and must be carried out at least 10 days before departure. Moreover, all international gatherings present an increased risk of transmission of infectious diseases, which only vaccination can prevent.

The alliance of actors including infectious disease specialists and pediatricians, patients, etc. MeningGO! hopes that the same vigilance will be observed for the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. However, on June 21, Santé Publique France highlighted the dangers linked to large gatherings, mentioning measles and respiratory-transmitted diseases among the infectious risks, but without mentioning meningitis among the main threats.

Potentially fatal infections or leaving after-effects

However, meningococcal infections cause the death of one in ten people and cause sequelae in one in five survivors, such as amputation, deafness, epilepsy, cognitive disorders… Hence the importance of prevention through vaccination while in 2023, invasive meningococcal infections have increased following the same trend.

Experts point out that to protect against meningococcal meningitis in France, the recent extension of the vaccination recommendation to serogroups ACWY and B by the High Authority of Health (HAS) should have been the opportunity to launch a vaccination campaign before this global event. This would have helped protect athletes and the public, while raising public awareness of the importance of this vaccination. MeningGO! underlines the need to protect the health of athletes and spectators, whether French or foreign, in the face of a risk of spreading this preventable disease.

IIMs are caused by bacteria, meningococci

Twelve families of meningococci (serogroups) have been identified, mainly A, B, C, W and Y. Most of the time, a meningococcal infection remains benign, causing respiratory or ENT infections such as angina, otitis or sinusitis, whitlows or whirlwinds… However, in rare cases, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cross the blood-brain barrier to infect the cerebrospinal fluid, leading to edema and inflammation of the meninges, the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.< /p>

Other clinical forms include arthritis, septic pericarditis, and purpura fulminans (a combination of septic shock and purpura). Although rare, these infections are fatal in approximately one in ten cases, despite the provision of antibiotics. IIMs primarily affect children under 5 years old, as well as 11 – 24 years old.

To find out more:

– Infovac France

– What are the symptoms of invasive meningococcal infection ?

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