Scientists have got some hope in treatment of a major cause of meningitis - meningococcal disease. They managed to work out an experimental vaccine.
The vaccine proved to protect newborns vulnerable to meningococcal disease. The existing vaccine can not protect infants under 1 year and have force only for children over 2. Though the discovery - an experimental shot from Novartis, called Menveo - may help resolve the danger.
Meningococcal disease is an acute bacterial infection that can cause death within hours if not recognized and treated in time. Although the majority of victims will recover fully, 10% of those infected will die, and around 20% will have permanent disabilities, ranging from learning difficulties, sight and hearing problems, to liver and kidney failure, scarring caused by skin grafts and loss of fingers, toes and limbs.
One of the reasons this disease is hard to identify is that it can appear in several different forms, depending on which part of the body the bacteria invade. There can be meningitis or septicaemia, or a combination of both.
Meningitis (bacterial form) is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (the 'meninges'). Symptoms may include a severe headache, fever, fatigue, stiff or painful neck, sensitivity to light or convulsions.
There are many different forms of meningitis - including fungal, viral and bacterial. It's only the more serious bacterial form which may be involved in meningococcal disease.
Meningococcal meningitis can result in permanent disabilities – such as deafness or brain injury – and can in some cases cause death.
Most cases of meningococcal meningitis occur in children. Early recognition and treatment of anyone exposed to meningococcus is extremely important to prevent serious illness or death. In cases of serious infection, sufferers may have to have limbs amputated as infected flesh dies off and may otherwise spread gangrene.
After some tests researchers announced that babies are in need of several doses of Menveo for long-term immunity. When given in four doses, the vaccine was about 94% effective. Fewer the doses, lower the effect.
It means that a meningococcal vaccine could prevent half of the roughly 300 cases of meningococcal meningitis in babies under 2.