Meningococcal infections in the Hamilton area during 1978.
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During 1978 there was a marked increase in the number of patients with meningococcal infection in the Hamilton area. Of 21 patients admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital, Hamilton, two thirds were under 5 years of age. Four patients died. All the isolates were sulfonamide-sensitive strains of serogroup B Neisseria meningitidis. Although no infections developed in contacts, several errors were made in the management of the hospital and household contacts of the infected patients: chemoprophylaxis was given to many contacts not considered to be at risk; ineffective antibiotics, particularly penicillin, were given for chemoprophylaxis; and chemoprophylaxis was often delayed while the results of cultures of nasopharyngeal and throat secretions were awaited. Circulation to local physicians of guidelines on proven prophylactic regimens was followed by a reduction in the frequency of these errors.
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