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Menigngitis Vaccine from the CDC Written by Brian Harcourt, Ph.D. and Fatima Coronado, M.D. who are scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention working in the Meningitis Laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia. We welcome the participation and collaboration of the CDC in providing important information to listeners of MD News.

Dave — you know quite a bit about the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, but most of our listeners don't. It's one of the leading cause of meningitis, which is an inflammation of the meninges, the protective lining around the brain and spinal cord. Each year between two to three thousand people in the US get it and even with prompt treatment, up to fourteen percent of patients die.

Some of the survivors can end up with permanent disabilities that include loss of a limb, deafness, nervous system problems or even brain damage. The upside is there is a vaccine.

It's called MCV4 and can protect against four of the most common types of this bacterium in the US

The bacteria initially live and grow in the nasopharynx, which is the area in the back of the nose and throat. People can then transmit the bacteria in droplets by coughing or sneezing.

The first symptoms are similar to other more common illnesses such as the "flu", but they progress rapidly to high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, and a worsening rash.

People who have symptoms that get worse quickly should seek medical attention immediately because in some patients, the disease can result in death within 48 hours.

Anyone can get meningococcal disease but it's most common among infants under 1, pre-teens and teens, and college students living in dormitories.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends use of MCV4 in persons aged 11-55, including routine vaccination of persons aged 11 to 18, ideally during the check-up at 11 to 12 years old. The vaccine is also recommended for college freshmen and for U.S. military recruits.

Side effects from MCV4 are usually mild and serious side effects are rare.

This one small effort could be life saving. More information can be found by searching the CDC website for bacterial meningitis.

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Meningococcal Disease: Frequently Asked Questions
FAQs from the CDC that provided authorative information about the disease, its incidence and treatments.
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Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: Meningococcal Vaccination
Meningococcal vaccines protect against most types of meningococcal disease, although they do not prevent all cases. There are two vaccines against Neisseria meningitidis available in the United States: meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4 or Menomune®), and meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4 or Menactra®).
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The CDC recommends the following websites for more information:
CDC's Meningits Website
CDC's Meningococcal Vaccine Website
CDC's Pre-Teen and Adolescent Vaccine Resources
CDC's It's Their Turn! Initiative
CDC's Pre-Teen Vaccine Campaign
ACIP Recommendations
Meningococcal Vaccine Information Statement

Revised Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to Vaccinate All Persons Aged 11-18 Years with Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine
"In January 2005, a quadrivalent meningococcal polysaccharide- protein conjugate vaccine (MCV4) (Menactra™, Sanofi Pasteur, Inc., Swiftwater, Pennsylvania) was licensed for use among persons aged 11-55 years. In May 2005, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended routine vaccination with 1 dose of MCV4 for persons aged 11-12 years, persons entering high school (i.e., at approximately age 15 years) if not previously vaccinated with MCV4, and other persons at increased risk for meningococcal disease, including college freshmen living in dormitories (1)."
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