The fourteenth case of Meningococcal Meningitis was admitted to Hospital in Perth for this year.

Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria and transmitted via mucus. There are many different strains of meningococcus , the most common in Australia are Type B and C.

The bacteria are spread by sneezing, coughing, intimate kisses and sharing food and drinks. Environments where people are in close contact such as day-care centres, school and sport camps, parties and nightclubs make it easier for the bacteria to spread.

Those most at risk are babies and children under 5 years (who account for two thirds of the cases) and teenagers and young adults from 15 to 25 years, due to their socially interactive lifestyle. Winter and early spring are the highest risk times.

 In Australia, meningococcal infections by strain C are vaccine preventable in all age groups; the meningococcal C vaccine has been part of the National Immunisation Program since 2003 and is given with the twelve month routine immunisation.

 Infection with strains A, W135 and Y are less common in Australia, but vaccination is available for those adults and older children travelling overseas .

This year a vaccine for meningococcal B ( Bexsero, 4CMenB) has become available, it is not given as part of the National Immunisation Programme, but is available on the private market. The vaccine is registered for use in persons over 2 months of age and requires two doses. It is recommended that a prophylactic dose of paracetamol is given with each dose of the 4CMenB vaccine, to reduce the chance of fever following the vaccination.


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