Call for further study on meningococcal vaccine

Feb 14, 2007

Epidemiologist Dr Mahomed Patel said that an analysis of historical patterns of meningococcal incidence should also be examined to better understand, and further prevent, the bacterial infection.

"The meningococcal vaccine has been effective since its introduction in 2003, but the disease incidence rate is still higher than 20 years ago. We could do better," Dr Patel said.

In a paper published in the Medical Journal of Australia, Dr Patel argues that although the vaccine is an important part of controlling meningococcal infections, its impact on the body's natural bacterial balance has not been adequately studied.

He identifies examples where the vaccines against two other bacterial infections – pneumococci and Haemophilus influenzae type b – were followed by an increase in the bacterial strains not covered by the vaccine. "It's not unlikely that this may occur with the meningococcal vaccines, so the more we know about the broader role of the meningococcus bacteria in the throat, the better," Dr Patel said.

About 10 percent of the population carries the meningococcal bacteria and less than one per cent of these people develop disease. The routine vaccination for one type of meningococcus bacteria, Type C, was introduced Australia-wide in 2003, costing $41 million in its first year.

Before the vaccine was introduced, about 1 person per 100,000 in Australia developed meningococcal disease due to Type C bacteria each year. A new vaccine for a different strain, Type B, has been introduced in New Zealand and is likely to be used here in the near future.

Dr Patel argues that the pattern of meningococcal disease over time should also inform control options. In his paper he found that in periods of upheaval – the World Wars and the Depression – epidemics of meningococcal disease occurred around the world. Many cases also occurred in the 1950s at the time of mass migrations from Europe to Australia, New Zealand and North America.

The only epidemics in Australia after this period were among poverty-stricken Indigenous communities in central Australia in 1972 and again in 1987. In the 1960 to 1970s, incidence across Australia fell, but rose again since the late 1980s until the introduction of the vaccine.

"This information is useful for understanding ongoing trends. Combined with knowledge of the effect of the vaccine on the bacteria, this could be powerful information for more effectively reducing infections."

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: FDA approves second vaccine against meningitis strain

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Obama recommends extended wilderness zone in Alaska

1 hour ago

US President Barack Obama said Sunday he would recommend a large swath of Alaska be designated as wilderness, the highest level of federal protection, in a move likely to anger oil proponents.

NASA craft set to beam home close-ups of Pluto

1 hour ago

Nine years after leaving Earth, the New Horizons spacecraft is at last drawing close to Pluto and on Sunday was expected to start shooting photographs of the dwarf planet.

Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys

3 hours ago

The U.S. Navy is seeking permits to expand sonar and other training exercises off the Pacific Coast, a proposal raising concerns from animal advocates who say that more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales and other creatures ...

Uganda seizes massive ivory and pangolin haul

3 hours ago

Ugandan wildlife officers have seized a huge haul of elephant ivory and pangolin scales, representing the deaths of hundreds of endangered animals, police said Sunday.

Recommended for you

Medical charity warns India over patent rules

Jan 21, 2015

Doctors without Borders on Wednesday warned the Indian government not to bow to US pressure to amend patent regulations that allow millions access to affordable medicines, ahead of a visit by President Barack Obama.

Why are some generic drugs getting so expensive?

Jan 21, 2015

More than eight out of every 10 prescriptions dispensed in the US is generic. This growth is due to a large number of top-selling drugs going off patent over the past decade, as well as innovations in t ...

Supreme Court sides with Teva in drug dispute

Jan 20, 2015

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. in the company's high-profile patent dispute with rival firms over the top-selling multiple sclerosis drug.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.