Cases of meningitis (infection and inflammation of the lining of the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning) due to Meningitis W have been increasing in England, since 2009. This increase seems to be caused by a particularly aggressive strain of the Meningitis W bacteria.
Meningitis W infections are particularly severe and have a higher death rate (1 in 10) than the more common Men C and Men B strains.
The Men ACWY vaccine is currently being rolled out across England to those in school year 9 (children aged 14) and offered to all school leavers, particularly those going to college or university.
Public Health England (PHE) are encouraging new students to contact their GP for a vaccination. Figures GP surgeries at the end of August 2016 showed that only 20% of school leavers aged 18 in the South East had had the jab.
The Meningitis W bacteria lives in the back of the nose and throat and is spread by coughing, kissing and sneezing. One in ten of us carry the bacteria without it causing a problem, however very occasionally the bacteria can lead to meningococcal disease which causes meningitis or septicaemia.
Early symptoms of meningococcal disease include:
- muscle pain
- cold hands and feet
- a rash of tiny red pinpricks may also develop once septicaemia has set in. You can tell this is a meningitis rash if it doesn’t fade under pressure – for instance, when gently pressing a glass against it.
At Southdowns Private Healthcare we offer the Men ACYW vaccine to all children from 3 months of age as a single injection.
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