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Universal vaccination associated with decreased Canadian cases of most deadly strain of meningitis
Date:3/2/2009

eningitis is an infection of the lining that covers the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by viruses and bacteria. The viral causes of meningitis are rarely life-threatening whereas the bacterial types are more deadly. There are five strains of meningitis caused by the meningococcal bacteria (called serogroups A, B, C, Y, and W135). Meningococcal vaccines protect against A, C, Y, W135 with the Men C public vaccination programs targeting the meningococcal C bacteria. The researchers did not observe significant changes in the rates of other strains causing meningitis following introduction of the meningococcal C vaccination program.

Infection with the meningococcal bacteria develops suddenly into a medical emergency that must be treated in hospital with IV antibiotics. Initial symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, and drowsiness while in infants it may show as irritability and lethargy. It can cause gangrene leading to amputation of limbs, blindness, deafness, brain damage, and cognitive and neurological disability. Children, adolescents, and immuno-compromised individuals are most vulnerable to infection.

Meningococcal C is the most fatal strain of bacterial meningitis. It infects approximately 250 Canadian children and adults each year, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control. For every 100 children who get sick, up to 15 will die. Those who survive may face life-long disability.

The Men C vaccine is provided free to all children in BC along with the regular childhood vaccinations. Infants need two doses: one needle at two months of age and then another at 12 months. The vaccine is also provided to people who may be vulnerable because they are missing a spleen, they have a weak immune system, are transplant recipients, or they have a cochlear (inner ear) implant.

The Men C vaccine is the first product suitable for infants offering long-term immunity against meningococcal C and it became commerciall
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Contact: Jennifer Kohm
jkohm@cw.bc.ca
604-875-2401
Child & Family Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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