This blog is written by our clinicians and aims to keep patients informed with up to date information on medical conditions.
What is Meningitis
Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord.
Bacteria or a virus usually causes it, but bacterial meningitis is the most serious type.
In the UK and Ireland, meningococcal bacteria (Neisseria Meningitidis) are the commonest cause of meningitis. There are 13 different strains of this bacterium and in UK the most common have been A, B, C, W, X and Y strains.
In the past 50 years, most meningococcal disease in UK has been due to group B and group C. Within the last few years a rise in W cases has been seen.
When to expect meningitis
Meningitis can develop at any age but it peaks in infants and young children. A second peak has been noted between 15 and 19 years of age.
Meningitis can have devastating consequences on an individual. It can lead to hearing loss, brain damage and limb amputation as well as death.
Meningococcal disease is spread by prolonged, close contact with an infected person. Most strains of meningitis bacteria are transmitted via the respiratory route.
Adults and teenagers can be carriers of these bacteria without showing any signs of illness. The bacteria are usually carried in their throat. The carriage rate in infants and young children is low with teenagers having the highest carriage rate (25%).
How to Recognise Meningitis
Symptoms may not all occur at once, but the disease can develop rapidly, in a matter of hours.
Meningitis Symptoms in Children:
- High pitch moaning, cry, wimpering
- Dislike of being handled, fretful
- Arching back, neck retraction
- Blank, staring expression
- Difficulty to wake up or very lethargic
- Fever and may have cold hands and feet
- Refusing feeds or vomiting
- Pale, blotchy skin colour
Meningitis Symptoms in Adults:
- Joint pains
- Dislike of light
- Stiff neck
A non-blanching rash may occur in late stages of the illness.
Meningitis C Vaccination
The Meningitis C vaccination was introduced in 1999 and has been incorporated into the national immunisation schedule. This has successfully reduced cases to just a handful each year, leaving Meningococcal group B currently the main cause of meningococcal disease.
Currently Meningitis C vaccine is given at 3 months old (Neisvacc-C) and 12-13 months old (Menitorix). A booster at the age of 14 has been introcued in the summer of 2015 as part of the Meningitis ACWY vaccination (Menveo or Nimenrix).
Meningitis B Vaccination
A new Meningitis B vaccine (called Bexsero) was finally licensed after 20 years of research and development in 2014. ROC Private Clinic has been offering this vaccine since.
From September 2015 it has been included in the national immunisation schedule but only for newborns. The number of injections required is based on age but usually 2-3 injections are needed. If you require further information, please contact us.
The NHS schedule offers the vaccination to babies aged 2 months, followed by a second dose at 4 months, and a booster at 12 months. The NHS immunisation schedule differs slightly from the manufacturer’s recommendations.
At ROC Private Clinic we follow the manufacturer’s schedule of vaccination:
- Age 2-5 months: 3 injections, 1 month or more apart with first injection at 2 months; a 4th booster is given 12-23 months;
- Age 6-11 months: 2 injections 2 months or more apart; a booster is given in the 2nd year of life;
- Age 12-23 months: 2 injections 2 months or more apart; a booster is given 12-23 months from 2nd injection;
- Age 2-10yrs: 2 injections at minimum 2 months interval;
- Age 11+: 2 injections at minimum 1 month interval.
Bexsero is the only Meningitis B vaccine available in UK whether privately or on the NHS.
Bexsero is a well tolerated vaccine and we noted a higher incidence of fever if given with other vaccines. Given alone, our experience shows that the incidence of fever is low. As with any other vaccines, local discomfort, mild redness or swelling may be experienced. You may wish to give your child Paracetamol at the time of the vaccine and/ or few hours later after the vaccine.
Meningitis ACWY Vaccination
Meningococcal group W has historically been rare in the UK but since 2009 cases of group W have increased year on year.
A particularly aggressive strain of the group W bacteria is causing disease in all age groups, but there has been a significant increase in university students.
Meningitis ACWY vaccination has been available for years for people travelling to sub-Saharan Africa where Meningitis A and W are prevalent.
Due to the increase of group W meningitis in UK, the meningitis ACWY vaccine has been added to the national immunisation programme for 14 year olds from September 2015. The US immunisation schedules has been offering Meningitis ACWY vaccination to 11 and 12 year olds with a booster at 16 years old since 2007.
At ROC Private Clinic, we follow the US immunisation schedule for Meningitis ACWY vaccine however we will discuss earlier vaccination.
The vaccine we currently use is called Menveo. Menveo can be given from 2 years of age.
Another vaccine available in UK is Nimenrix and this can be administered from 12 months old.
If you or anyone in your family would like to get these vaccinations done privately, please contact our clinic or email us at email@example.com. Please refer to the Fee page for prices.