- Open Access
Passive smoking, invasive meningococcal disease and preventive measures: a commentary
© Rashid and Booy; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012
- Received: 24 October 2012
- Accepted: 10 December 2012
- Published: 10 December 2012
Active smoking is a recognized risk factor of various infectious diseases. In a systematic review published in BMC Public Health, Murray et al. demonstrated that exposure to passive smoking significantly increased the risk of meningococcal disease among children. Their review especially highlights that the risk remains high even if the exposure occurs during pregnancy or after birth, although the authors could not disentangle the independent effects of smoking during pregnancy from those in the postnatal period. How passive smoking increases the risk of childhood meningococcal disease is not precisely known. Both exposure to 'smoke', or 'smokers' (who are highly susceptible to pharyngeal carriage of meningococci) are postulated mechanisms, but unfortunately very few studies have examined the risk of exposure by considering these two variables separately, and this therefore remains a research priority. Quitting may well be the mainstay of preventing tobacco-related hazards but the available global data suggest that most smokers are reluctant to quit. Among other interventions, immunizing children with a meningococcal conjugate vaccine could, theoretically, reduce the risk of meningococcal disease among children and their smoker household contacts through herd immunity.
See related article http://0-www.biomedcentral.com.brum.beds.ac.uk/1471-2458/12/1062
- Conjugate meningococcal vaccine
- invasive meningococcal disease
- meningococcal carriage
- passive smoking
- quitting ratio
HR is a clinical research epidemiologist at the NCIRS, Australia. He is particularly interested in the epidemiology of vaccine-preventable infections among travelers, including meningococcal disease and respiratory infections.
RB is currently the Head of Clinical Research at NCIRS, Australia. He has particular interests in meningococcal and pneumococcal disease, Hib, influenza, varicella and HPV. His research interests extend from understanding the genetic basis of susceptibility to, and severity of, infectious diseases, especially influenza and invasive disease caused by encapsulated organisms; the clinical, public health, social and economic burden of these diseases; and means by which to prevent or control serious infections through vaccines, drugs and non-pharmaceutical measures.
The authors thank Dr Jane Jelfs for providing valuable full text references.
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