Today is World Meningitis Day. It is estimated that every year more than 1.2 million people are affected by meningitis all around the world. Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the covering of the brain and spinal cord. It is most often caused by infection (bacterial, viral, or fungal), but can also be produced by chemical irritation, subarachnoid haemorrhage, cancer and other conditions. Meningitis is a serious disease that can affect anyone across all ages. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) it is fatal in 50% of cases if untreated, and may result in brain damage, hearing loss or learning disability for survivors.
Vaccination is key in preventing the most severe forms of meningitis and it is essential that wide and comprehensive access to the necessary vaccines be provided across all age and social groups. Vaccines currently available target many types of viral and bacterial meningitis. These include the Men ACWY vaccines, and more recently the Men B vaccine which has become available in 2013. Other key vaccinations such as against MMR, pneumoccocal and Hib are also key in preventing many types of viral and bacterial meningitis. The effective implementation of immunisation programmes across the life course remains key to keeping populations healthy and fully protected.
For more information on meningitis check the WHO fact sheet.
For more information on the disease and the relevant meningitis vaccines available click here.
For more information on World Meningitis Day visit the CoMO (Confederation of Meningitis Organisations) website.
Join the debate on Twitter using the hashtags #meningitis and #joinhands