Dáil Éireann - Volume 461 - 08 February, 1996
Written Answers. - Meningitis Statistics.
Mr. Callely Mr. Callely
71. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Health the number of meningitis cases reported in 1995 by each health board area; the age and gender of the sufferers; the comparable figures for each of the years 1990 and 1985; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2834/96]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East) Michael Noonan
 Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East): The number of cases of bacterial meningitis, including meningococcal septicaemia and acute cases of  viral meningitis reported to the Department in each of the years 1995, 1990 and 1985 is as follows:—
The increase in the number of cases of bacterial meningitis reported since 1985 may indicate that notifications were incomplete in the past. The system of notification has been considerably improved. A comprehensive system for monitoring the incidence of bacterial meningitis and meningococcal infection is in operation.
The increase in the number of cases reported in recent years is almost certainly composed of two elements i.e. an actual increase in the community and more efficient reporting. The actual increase is a reflection of the unpredictable nature of bacterial meningitis and meningococcal infection which can increase, sometimes significantly so without apparent reason. The greater propensity to report brings with it the possibility of over reporting of cases, i.e. cases are reported as bacterial meningitis but following thorough hospital investigation, another diagnosis is made, usually viral meningitis.
An expert group has been established to examine ways to further strengthen the diagnostic, surveillance and preventive aspects of our approach to bacterial meningitis and related conditions.
Information on the age and gender of persons who contract meningitis or meningococcal septicaemia is not routinely collected in the weekly returns submitted by the health boards to my Department but this and other aspects of the epidemiology of the disease will be considered by the expert group to which I have referred.
Dáil Éireann 461 Written Answers. Meningitis Statistics.