Background: Neisseria meningitidis is a rare cause of acute bacterial conjunctivitis but can progress to invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) in the case and their close contacts. There is, however, a lack of consensus on the clinical and public health management of primary meningococcal conjunctivitis (PMC). Methods: We searched Ovid MEDLINE via PubMed, EMBASE and NHS evidence (up to June 2019) for all publications relating to meningococcal conjunctivitis to provide an evidence-base for developing guidelines for the management of PMC cases and their close contacts. Results: The review identified a 10–29% risk of IMD among PMC cases within two days of onset of eye infection (range: 3 h to 4 days). In one study, the risk of IMD in PMC cases treated with systemic antibiotics was 19 times lower than topical antibiotics alone (p = 0.001). IMD among close contacts of PMC cases is uncommon but potentially fatal. Whether meningococcal vaccination for PMC cases or close contacts provides any additional benefit is unclear. Conclusions: Systemic antibiotic treatment significantly reduces the risk of invasive disease in PMC cases, while antibiotic chemoprophylaxis for close contacts will reduce their risk of secondary IMD. These findings need to be highlighted in relevant clinical and public health guidelines.
- Invasive meningococcal disease
- Primary meningococcal conjunctivitis