Bacterial meningitis and new vaccines

Meningitis is an infectious disease, which consists of an inflammation of the meninges.  It is caused by bacteria (15%), viruses (80%, usually less dangerous to health) and also by fungi, parasites, etc.

There are very effective vaccines against bacterial meningitis, some included in the calendar as it is the case of Haemophilus Influenzae, Streptococcus Pneumoniae and Meningococcus strain C. On the other hand, there is the vaccine of strain B, which can be freely available for purchase from pharmacies.  In both cases immunization is very high and vaccination is mandatory and recommended, respectively.

To know more about meningitis, its strains and vaccines, we have spoken with the paediatricianDr. Justo De Alba, a specialist at Hospital Ochoa, who offered information on the percentage of the population affected, that is, 1.7 for every 100,000. and from 0.5 to 1.2 for every 100,000 depending on the age group.

The bacteria causing meningococcal meningitis are found in the throat. There may be healthy people who are carriers and, therefore, infect others. Hence the importance of vaccines, totally effective and recommended by health authorities around the world.

Returning to the subject in question, the most frequent strains in Spain are C and B. Since 2000, C is included in the Spanish vaccination calendar, administered at 4 and 12 months and at age 12.  In addition, since 2013 the use of the B vaccine in hospital settings was approved. Two years later, in 2015, pharmacies started selling them.  De Alba recommends vaccination against meningitis type B, at 3 months of age, since currently 75 per cent of the infections are due to this strain, compared to 25 per cent of type C.

However, these strains are not alone, but share a scenario with other less frequent. Hence the vaccine for type A, C, W135, Y being made available in the last few months as a complement to the previous ones.  A single dose would cover all possible infections. This vaccine, like B, is available for sale also in pharmacies, under a doctor’s prescription who will determine the one recommended in each case.

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