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New Meningitis Vaccine Works in Infants
Date:1/8/2008

Menveo not available in US yet, British researchers note

TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- A new type of meningitis vaccine appears to offer protection for babies against several strains of the deadly bacterial form of the disease, British and Canadian researchers report.

The new vaccine, which is not yet licensed in the United States, provides immunity against four strains of meningococcal disease in all age groups, according to a study in the Jan. 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. There is currently no meningococcal vaccine approved for use in children under 2 in the United States.

"The key message for parents to take from this study is that this vaccine has the potential to reduce the number of cases of meningitis in babies and young children," said study author Dr. Matthew Snape, a pediatrician at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

"There are approximately 1,400 to 2,800 cases of meningococcal infections in the United States per year. Approximately 10 to 14 percent of people experiencing this disease will die, and 20 percent of survivors will have long-term disabilities," said Snape. "The highest rates of disease are seen in children under the age of 2 years."

Meningitis is an infection that occurs in the spinal fluid, and it can be caused by a virus or bacterium, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bacterial forms of meningitis tend to be more serious, potentially causing brain damage, hearing loss and learning disabilities. Two vaccines -- the Haemophilus influenza (Hib) and pneumococcal -- can protect youngsters, including babies, against certain strains of bacterial meningitis, but not all. Two other vaccines offer protection against four strains of the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria -- one for children aged 2 to 10 and the other for those aged 11 and up -- but neither offers protection to babies.

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