New POISONOUS Vaccine for Meningitis

Vaccine could save hundreds from meningitis: research

A vaccine against the last remaining strain of meningitis which kills and maims hundreds of children a year in Britain has been developed.

By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
6:30AM GMT 18 Jan 2012

Children are currently vaccinated against meningitis C but there is no vaccine against the B strain which causes around 1,000 cases a year and is fatal in one in five.

Researchers have tested a meningitis B vaccine in toddlers and adults, and now teenagers and the results have shown it is highly effective and safe.

The vaccine called 4CMenB made by Novartis is expected to be licensed for use in the next few months allowing it to be prescribed privately.

However Government advisers will have to evaluate the vaccine and negotiate with the makers on price before a decision is made to introduce it on the NHS.

Meningitis is one of the most feared childhood diseases because it can kill in a matter of hours and complications may leave those who do survive with permanent damage including limb amputations, deafness, blindness and brain damage.

There are already vaccines against some forms of meningitis, including Hib, meningitis C and pneumococcal meningitis.

Meningitis B is the last remaining form of the disease that occurs in Britain for which there is no vaccine.

Children under the age of five and teenagers are most at risk.

Study authors Professors Maria Elena Santolaya and Miguel L O’Ryan, from the University of Chile, wrote: “Following successful implementation of routine childhood vaccination with serogroup C meningococcal conjugate vaccines, serogroup B is now the most serious cause of meningococcal disease in Europe and elsewhere, with a substantial medical burden.

“In the UK, for example, up to 19 per cent of laboratory confirmed cases of invasive serogroup B disease between 1999 and 2006 were fatal.”

More than 1,600 teenagers were given the vaccine or a placebo and 90 per cent showed immunity after one dose rising to between 99 per cent and 100 per cent after two doses.

The researchers said it would be best to give two doses between one and six months apart.

The study was funded by Novartis.

The 4CMenB vaccine has been developed in a different way to the current meningitis C vaccine and the authors said the new technique raises the possibility of creating one vaccine against all strains of meningitis.

They wrote: “Further clinical data to support such an exciting prospect are needed.”

Pain in the arm where the injection had been given was the most commonly reported side effect and this was higher after the vaccine than the placebo but quickly resolved itself, the authors said.

They concluded: “The results of our study suggest that two doses of 4CMenB given to healthy adolescents can impart substantial protection against meningococcal serogroup B disease. Further study is needed to provide information about the immunogenicity and tolerability of 4CMenB in various age groups, including infants, who bear the largest disease burden worldwide.”

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the British Health Protection Agency said: “Since the introduction of the men c vaccine, cases of the disease reported to the HPA have decreased dramatically. The HPA is undertaking a range of work to better understand the burden of this disease and the potential benefit of this vaccine in the UK.”

Dr Myron Christodoulides, chairman of the charity, Meningitis UK, Scientific Medical Panel and expert in microbiology and infection at the University of Southampton, said: “Previous studies have shown that 4CMenB has the potential to provide significant protection when administered to infants. This new study shows that the vaccine could also be highly protective in the adolescent age group.

“However, there are still a number of important questions to be answered such as how many strains it will protect against, how long the protection will last and whether it will stop the bacteria from being passed on to others, providing indirect protection to those not vaccinated.”

Steve Dayman, founder of Meningitis UK who lost his own son Spencer to the disease in 1982, said: “It is extremely encouraging that the vaccine could provide almost 100 per cent protection to adolescents.

“Behind the under-fives, teenagers are the next most at-risk from this disease. Meningitis can kill in hours and we have seen first-hand the devastation this disease can cause people. If introduced, this vaccine will be the first of its kind and could save thousands of lives but it is vital that research continues to develop improved vaccine strategies.”

Symptoms of meningitis include sudden onset of a high fever, a severe headache, dislike of bright lights, vomiting, painful joints, fitting, and drowsiness that can deteriorate into a coma.

In babies the condition is harder to diagnose and symptoms include a fever while the hands and feet are cold; high pitched moaning or whimpering; blank starring, inactivity, or being hard to wake up; poor feeding; neck retraction with arching of the back; pale and blotchy complexion.

If the bacteria enters the bloodstream septicaemia can develop which causes the characteristic rash often associated with meningitis.

It may start as a cluster of pinprick blood spots under the skin, spreading to form bruises under the skin and can be distinguished from other rashes by the fact that it does not fade when pressed under the bottom of a glass known as the tumbler test.

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