Officials at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said Germany, France and Belgium reported a total of seven cases of invasive meningococcal disease of the Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C strain among men having sex with men. This strain was also associated with an outbreak, with deaths, among men having sex with men in New York City from 2010-13.
Further studies are needed to establish how the infection has been transmitted. However, increased travel and international contact at events and festivals might be factors facilitating the spread of the disease among men having sex with men, officials said.
Vaccination with conjugate meningococcal vaccine against serogroup C constitutes an effective prevention intervention, and member states should consider vaccination as a means of outbreak control where clusters in specific target populations are identified, officials said.
Since 2000, 14 European Union member states have introduced meningococcal vaccines in their routine immunization programs.
However, few countries conducted catch-up campaigns at the time of introduction and vaccine-induced immunity in the adult population is likely to be low in most countries, the ECDC said.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]