The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) meningococcal data for 2023 was released this week, indicating an overall reduction in the number meningococcal cases compared to 2022, from 72 in 2022 to 59 cases in 2023.
This change has been driven by a decrease in the number of cases among children under five years. In infants aged younger than one, case numbers declined from 22 to seven cases. There was also a reduction among children aged one to four years, from 15 to eight cases.
There was an increase in cases among those in the 15-24 age group, from 13 to 18 cases.
Because of the decrease in the number of cases under five, people aged 15-24 years make up an increased proportion of meningococcal cases – 30% in 2023 compared with 18% in 2022.
Overall, cases among Māori reduced from 34 cases in 2022 to 18 cases in 2023.
Annual case numbers continue to be lower than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic when they reached a high of 139 cases in 2019.
With low numbers, caution must be exercised in interpreting changes from year to year across any demographic group.
ESR notes that while case numbers continue to be lower than they were prior to 2020, meningococcal disease remains a serious concern in New Zealand. It is important to continue monitoring trends in order to inform policy decisions, including immunisation policy.
ESR meningococcal data are updated monthly on the ESR website, in a monthly report and as a dashboard.