Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada Applauds Meningitis Awareness, but Encourages Broadened Education



    WATERLOO, ON, March 27 /CNW/ - The Meningitis Research Foundation of
Canada is pleased to see recent efforts by Ontario Public Health Units to
raise awareness of meningitis and the importance of vaccination. As part of a
broader education program, however, parents should also be aware that current
immunization programs only protect against meningitis strain C.
    Other strains of the disease - B, Y and W-135 - are also responsible for
many meningitis cases in Ontario. In fact, between 1998 and 2003, there have
been marked changes in the landscape of meningitis involving strains, C, Y,
and W-135. The number of cases caused by strain C annually, decreased from 23
in 1998 - 2001 to 14 cases per year in 2002 - 2003. On the other hand, the
number of cases caused by strains Y and W-135 increased from 11 cases per year
in 1998 - 2001 to 22 cases in 2002 - 2003.
    Meningococcal strain distribution changes over time and geographic
region. Recently, a conjugated vaccine(*) which prevents against all four
preventable strains, including strains A, C, Y, and W-135 was made available
in Canada.
    Within the current immunization program (strain C protection only), the
vaccine offered to all Canadians could have prevented 119 cases of disease,
between 1998 and 2003. With the new vaccine(*), effective against strains A, C,
Y, W-135, an additional 88 cases could have been prevented.
    Broad protection provided through this new vaccine is essential to
provide optimal prevention of meningitis in Canada. The Meningitis Research
Foundation of Canada hopes the province will consider optimal prevention of
meningitis through broad protection with this newest vaccine.
    Until that time, parents should be aware of their options so they can, in
conjunction with their family physicians, make an informed decision about
protecting their child from this tragic disease.
    Working together, we can ensure no family has to experience the
devastation of vaccine-preventable meningitis.

    (*)Menactra.





For further information:

For further information: please contact Kathryn Blain, Founder and
Chair, Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada, Tel: 1-800-643-1303, Email:
fund@meningitis.ca

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Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada

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