Meningococcal infections can cause an inflammation of the lining of the brain and or the spinal chord called meningitis and also a form of blood poisoning called septicaemia. The most common cause of bacterial meningitis in UK is cause by a bacteria neisseria meningitidis. This bacteria resides in the lining of the nose or throat of about 10% of the population without causing any symptoms. However it can spread to others via person to person contact in respiratory secretions or saliva when they are in close contact, especially coughing or kissing.
Meningococcal bacteria are classified in groups (sero-types) on the basis of their outer shell configuration or structure. There are to date 12 distinct groups with historically “B” “C” “W135” and “Y” being the most common in UK
It is commonly thought that only babies an young children are affected by meningitis. This is not so – meningitis can strike at any time and can affect all ages, although the highest incidence is among infants and young children. Around 50% of cases are those under 5yrs. But It is also often spread when people congregate together in large numbers, in nursery school and again in university halls. Living and playing in close proximity to one another increase the risk of spreading the infection.
Check on the link to obtain more information on various topics at Meningitis Now Information and this short video to assist in knowing the symptoms. It is vital to remember to act swiftly should you suspect meningitis.
The UK NHS childhood vaccination programme has incorporated meningitis “C” vaccine since the late 1990’s and as a result this form of meningitis has been reduced dramatically with group “B” now accounting for 80% of cases in UK. However since 2009 group “W” has been accounting for an increasing percentage of cases.
There are two available vaccines, one that protects against serotypes “ACWY” (branded as Menveo® / Nimenrix®) and a new vaccine against the “B” serotype (branded as meningitis ‘B’ vaccine (Bexsero®), ACWY vaccine is available to specific targeted groups via NHS but otherwise is only available privately.
Meningitis types “ACWY” is the vaccine that visitors to Saudi Arabia will require when on a pilgrimage to that country. We are able to issue a Vaccine Certificate for Meningitis for production of the necessary visa and to present to the Saudi immigration authorities to allow entry. For more information see the link Saudi Arabia Issues
Meningitis types “ACWY” is also the vaccine to help prevent meningitis within the “meningitis belt” in sub-sahara Africa where the main strain is type “A” but also “W” & “C” have been reported – to check which countries are within this area of Africa activate the link “the meningitis belt” of sub-Sahara Africa
In meningitis belt countries, high attack rates are seen up to 30 years of age. Risk for travelers is highest in people visiting meningitis belt countries who have prolonged contact with local populations during an epidemic.
Travellers who visit or reside in countries where meningococcal disease is a high risk, including the meningitis belt of sub-Saharan Africa during the dry season (December–June), should receive vaccination with a quadrivalent conjugated vaccine – we have available Menveo & Nimenrix both of which are advocated by the Saudia Arabian authorities.