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Meningitis A vaccine breaks barrier; first to gain approval to travel outside cold chain
Date:11/14/2012

e new article reports that swabs taken from the throats of thousands of Burkina Faso residents prior to and in the year that followed the introduction of MenAfriVac suggested that infection with the bacteria causing meningitis A had been eliminated in vaccinated and unvaccinated populations in Burkina Faso. According to one of the authors, Dr. Marie-Pierre Prziosi, director of the Meningitis Vaccine Project, "our findings show that the bacteria causing meningitis A have disappeared from the noses and throats of those too old or too young to have received the vaccine, resulting from a phenomenon known as 'herd immunity.'"

"From early evidence in the first introducing countries, based on public health surveillance combined with these hard data, we can say the signs are very promising," Prziosi said. "We have herd immunity, which we were expecting. And we can also show that after introduction in Burkina Faso, we saw the lowest level of epidemic meningitis in 15 years."

She noted that the experience of Chad is particularly dramatic because the country's limited cold chain capacity had led authorities to immunize target populations in four phases. The first was carried out in 2011, and the other regions were set to receive the vaccine this year. The effect of the vaccine seemed evident almost immediately. In 2012, not a single group A meningitis case was identified in the three vaccinated areas, while the regions that had not yet received the vaccine suffered severe outbreaks caused by meningitis A.

For more than 100 years, sub-Saharan Africa has suffered from epidemics that exact a terrible and deadly toll. Across the meningitis belt, from Dakar to Addis Ababa, as many as 450 million people are at risk from the disease. Epidemics of meningitis A occur every 7 to 14 years and are particularly devastating to children and young adults.

"The introduction of MenAfriVac in Burkina Faso in 2010 was the start of an exciting journey for the meningitis A vaccine
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Contact: Coimbra Sirica
CSirica@burnesscommunications.com
301-943-3287
Burness Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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