Bacterial meningitis can be severe and fatal and therefore requires immediate antibiotic treatment. If you notice symptoms of meningitis, do not delay, consult a doctor or go to the accident and emergency department immediately.

Meningitis in Belgium

Invasive meningococcal diseases are present in Belgium even though they are rare.

The last big epidemic of invasive meningococcal diseases dates back to 2001 (meningococcus C). 

The incidence of cases of meningococcal diseases has dropped since 2002, in particular due to the introduction of the vaccination against meningococcal serogroup C. 

However, invasive diseases linked to meningococcal serogroup B currently arise most frequently in Belgium.

According to the WIV-ISP in 2015:

  • the National Reference Centre diagnosed 98 cases of invasive meningococcal diseases 
  • the incidence was 0.86 cases per 100,000 inhabitants 
  • 48.9% of cases were observed in Flanders 
  • 40.8 % in Wallonia 
  • and 10.2% in Brussels.

In 2015 the age groups most affected were:

  • children under 5 (32.6% of cases) 
  • young people aged between 15 and 19 (13.3 % of cases) 
  • and people aged over 65 (17.3 % of cases)

Serogroup B was found in 68.4% of cases.

Please note! These figures are subject to change. Consult Epistat

Meningitis worldwide 

Strains of meningococcus A are most widespread in Africa and Asia; and B and C strains are most widespread in Europe and the United States.

Invasive meningococcal diseases particularly affect sub-Saharan Africa along the length of the “meningitis belt”, which stretches from Senegal in the West as far as Ethiopia in the East.

Epidemics arise in these regions every 7 to 14 years (OMS).

Sciensano hosts the National Reference Centre (NRC) which provides epidemiological monitoring for the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) and Listeria monocytogenes (listeria). The Belgian Official Medicines Control Laboratory (OMCL) of Sciensano, together with the European OMCL network, is responsible for the quality control of the meningitis vaccine prior to marketing.


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