Preventable Meningitis Death in BC Reinforces Need for Broadened Protection, Education



    WATERLOO, ON, April 30 /CNW/ - It is with great sadness that following
National Immunization Awareness Week, the Meningitis Research Foundation of
Canada acknowledges the death of a teenage boy in Vancouver to a strain of
meningitis, group Y, that could have been prevented with appropriate
vaccination.
    This case recognizes a very important but disturbing fact about invasive
meningococcal disease (IMD), a devastating illness that can take the life of
an otherwise healthy child in less than 48 hours.
    There are multiple strains of IMD - groups A, B, C, Y and W-135. Four of
these strains are preventable but publicly-funded vaccines across Canada only
protect against meningitis C. The one exception is Prince Edward Island which
covers Menactra, a new conjugate vaccine that protects against four of the
preventable strains - A, C, W-135, and Y, the strain responsible for the death
in BC.
    This is a preventable human tragedy that has caused incredible suffering
and distress to a family and community.
    The Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada has been aggressively
calling for increased public awareness about the multiple strains of
meningitis and the need for broadened protection through vaccination with
Menactra:

    
      Education: We feel it imperative that physicians and Public Health
      Units be proactive in educating parents that current immunization
      programs only protect against meningitis group C strains, and that
      broadened protection is available. 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.

      Public Access: We urge all provinces to consider optimal prevention of
      meningitis through broader protection provided by this new vaccine. It
      should be made available to all children. It should be noted that in
      the U.S., vaccination with Menactra is recommended for all adolescents.
    

    Only through these efforts will we see optimal prevention of meningitis
in Canada. Working together, we can ensure no family has to experience the
devastation of vaccine-preventable meningitis.
    We strongly encourage the public to visit the MRFC's web site to learn
more about the disease at www.meningitis.ca.





For further information:

For further information: 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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