Saturday 27 December 2014

Booster jabs for first-years after return of potential killer C strain of bacterial meningitis

Published 03/09/2014 | 02:30

There have been four cases of the potential killer C strain of bacterial meningitis in the first six months of 2014
There have been four cases of the potential killer C strain of bacterial meningitis in the first six months of 2014

A DANGEROUS form of meningitis, which was on the brink of elimination due to vaccination, has made a return in the last six months, a new report has warned.

Health authorities here are worried at the emergence of four cases of the potential killer C strain of bacterial meningitis in the first six months of 2014. It has prompted a decision to give a booster vaccine to first-year students in secondary school.

This strain posed a major threat to teenagers and young adults until a vaccine was introduced in 2000. It saw cases fall from 139 that year to just one n 2013.

However, there is now increasing evidence that the protection, which young children get from vaccines at two, four and six months, can wane in many cases and there is a need to give them another jab in adolescence.

The four cases reported in the first half of this year are the highest in any six-month period since 2005, said the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

The average age of the victims was 52. The youngest were aged between 15-20 and the oldest were in the 75-79 age group.

One young person had not been vaccinated and had recently arrived from a country where the jab is not routinely provided. All survived the disease.

The report said similar trends have been seen in the UK where there is an element of waning immunity among children vaccinated in the first year of life.

The watchdog said the advice is to vaccinate infants as per the normal schedule. It should also be given to teenagers starting secondary school.

Children and adults whose immune system is lowered due to illness or older people may also need an additional dose, it added.

Irish Independent

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