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Epidemiology for public health
Istituto Superiore di Sanità
Epidemiology for public health - ISS

Epidemiological data

In Italy

In Italy, a surveillance system of bacterial meningitis has been in place since 1994, and was expanded in 2007 to include all invasive meningococcal, pneumococcal and Haemophilus diseases. Coordinated by the Department of Infectious Diseases of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (DMI-ISS), this country-wide surveillance is aimed at guiding public health strategies such as prevention through vaccination. In particular, for meningococcal, pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae diseases, the DMI-ISS (in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Regions and Autonomous Provinces involved) performs phenotypic and genomic characterization of the microorganisms, which is essential to estimating the proportion of vaccine-preventable cases and for the identification and management of epidemic clusters. Italy’s surveillance system of invasive bacterial diseases contributes to the European surveillance network by regularly submitting data to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

 

The “Surveillance of Invasive Bacterial Diseases in Italy: 2019 Consolidated Report” provides a detailed review of the latest available data, relating to the period 2017-2019.

 

Neisseria meningitidis (Meningococcus)

A total of 189 cases of invasive meningococcal disease were reported in 2019, compared to 170 and 197 cases in 2018 and 2017, respectively. The overall incidence of invasive meningococcal disease in Italy ranged from 0.33 cases/100,000 population in 2017 to 0.28 cases/100,000 population in 2018 and 0.31 cases/100,000 population in 2019. Therefore, it was lower than the European average of 0.6 cases/100,000 population, reported in 2017 (latest available data).

 

In 2019, incidence of invasive meningococcal disease (cases per 100,000 population) was highest among infants <1 year of age (2.97) and children aged 1-4 years (0.88), despite a slight decline compared to previous years. Incidence among young adults (15-24 years of age) remained stable (0.58).

 

Streptococcus pneumoniae (Pneumococcus)

A total of 1671 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease were reported in 2019, compared to 1547 and 1721 cases in 2018 and 2017, respectively. The overall incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease in Italy ranged from 2.56 cases/100,000 population in 2018 to 2.84 cases/100,000 population in 2017 and 2.77 cases/100,000 population in 2019. This was lower than the European average of 6.4 cases/100,000 population, reported in 2018 (latest available data).

 

In 2019, incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease (cases per 100,000 population) was highest among infants <1 year of age (6.39) and adults >64 years of age (7.26), with both groups recording a slight increase compared to 2018 (5.04 and 6.67, respectively). Incidence in the 25-64 age group was also slightly higher (rising from 1.60 in 2018 to 1.71 in 2019).

 

Haemophilus influenzae (Haemophilus)

A total of 186 cases of invasive Haemophilus disease were reported in 2019, compared to 169 and 150 cases in 2018 and 2017, respectively. Overall incidence rose from 0.25 cases/100,000 population in 2017 to 0.31 cases/100,000 population in 2019, which was lower than the European average of 0.8 cases/100,000 population, reported in 2018 (latest available data).

 

In 2019, incidence of invasive Haemophilus disease (cases per 100,000 population) was highest among infants <1 year of age (2.28) and adults >64 years of age (0.87), with both groups recording a slight increase compared to previous years.

 

Useful resources

 

Publication date: 15 February 2021

Authors: Paola Stefanelli, coordinatore della Sorveglianza delle Malattie Batteriche Invasive Il gruppo di lavoro per la Sorveglianza delle Malattie Batteriche Invasive – Dipartimento Malattie Infettive, ISS