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How new vaccines will stop meningitis spread

Tuesday August 19th, 2014

Two new meningitis vaccines may prove more powerful than at first thought - cutting the spread of bacteria through the population, researchers report today.

The vaccines are designed to stimulate the immune system to defend itself against infection with the bacteria that cause meningitis B and meningitis C.

But the latest study suggests they also have massive benefits in preventing the spread of the bacteria.

The bacteria are thought common in the population and in most people do no harm.

They cause serious illness when they get in the bloodstream and the brain.

But the Southampton University study suggests widespread use of the new vaccines could help reduce the presence of bacteria in the population at large and the risk posed by individuals carrying the organisms.

One vaccine, MenACWY-CRM, was found to reduce the presence of bacteria in the throat by 39%. A second 4CMenB cut rates in the throat by 20 to 30%.

The findings are reported in The Lancet today.

Researcher Professor Robert Read said: "This is a significant piece of work in helping more and more people be protected from meningitis. We have shown that vaccines modify the way the bacteria are carried, so even when the antibodies are no longer present in the blood, the carriage in the throat is still prevented, and so is onward transmission of the infection to others.

"This could provide a degree of herd protection against meningitis if implemented in a campaign in which high transmission occurs, for example in teenagers and young adults."

Effect of a quadrivalent meningococcal ACWY glycoconjugate or a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine on meningococcal carriage: an observer-blind, phase 3 randomised clinical trial. Lancet 19 August 2014

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Child Health | UK News

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