Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In the words of Han Solo...

"Great kid! Don't get cocky!"

Some great news came out today: A vaccine for the most common strain of meningitis causing bacteria in the UK (meningococcal group B) came a step closer today following a study published in The Lancet, the results of which were promising enough for the Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation (JCVI) to consider the vaccine for introduction in the UK.

This is *wonderful* news, don't get me wrong, but the Han Solo reference relates to a potential bad side to this announcement, exemplified by this quote from the Telegraph:

"Meningitis B is the last remaining form of the disease that occurs in Britain for which there is no vaccine."

This sadly isn't true. Viral meningitis can be caused by a great many viruses. Some of these, for example mumps virus, have vaccines. But many do not. There is also fungal meningitis, which is considerably rarer (tending to affect those with compromised immune systems).

Even with a men B vaccine, there will still be thousands of cases of meningitis a year. The faster meningitis is treated, the more likely you'll get through it (by not dying), and without brain damage, a missing limb, or some other nasty after effect. So, let's celebrate this news, but remember the signs and symptoms of meningitis, because it's never going to be entirely eradicated.

Thank you for reading this far, really, please do go and check up on the signs and symptoms of meningitis. That link could literally save your life.

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