WHAT IS MENINGOCOCCAL MENINGITIS?
Meningococcal meningitis is caused by Gram-negative bacteria known as Neisseria meningitidis. The disease is a systemic infection classified into 13 sub-groups, of which B, C, W135 and Y are most common in the UK. The transmission of disease is passed on by inhaling air droplets through sneezing, coming into contact with respiratory secretions and coughing.
The bacteria are located in healthy individuals in the nasal area and are usually reside harmlessly there. Globally, the highest occurrence of the disease is across the ‘meningitis belt’ of sub-Saharan Africa & Saudi Arabia usually in the dry season (Dec-June). Other countries vary depending upon seasonal changes.
Classical symptoms include:
Meningitis symptoms present with a sudden onset of fever, throbbing headache, nausea and vomiting, neck stiffness and photophobia. These symptoms last couple of minutes to hours. If present, seek medical advice immediately. The period of incubation is approximately 2-7 days. The appearance of the rash may be not visible but as the infection develops, the rash becomes more purplish in colour and may not blanch. A simple test known as the ‘glass-test’ can confirm if the rash is persistent when gentle pressure is applied.
DO I NEED MENINGOCOCCAL MENINGITIS VACCINATION FOR MY HOLIDAY?
To find out what vaccinations you will need for your travels, please visit our country guide and choose which countries you will be visiting.
Vaccination is mandatory for those participating in the Hajj and/or Umrah pilgrimage
Vaccination against the subgroups A, C, W135 and Y meningitis is highly recommended if travelling to a high-endemic area (e.g. staying for long periods, backpacking, residing in rural areas and attending Hajj or Umrah pilgrimages in Saudi Arabia or doing seasonal work in these areas. Proof of vaccination is required for the groups A, C, Y and W135 meningitis if travelling to these areas.
For the purpose of travel, the following vaccinations are required and should be administrated 2-3 weeks before going abroad. Vaccines on the market are: ACWY Vax, Menveo, Nimenrix.
Some require a primary injection followed by a booster injection, if necessary, in order to achieve long term protection. Please check with travel vaccine clinic for official guidelines.
The meningitis vaccine is not suitable for babies younger than two months old.
**Not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, premature infants, HIV & immunosuppressed patients, those who have a hypersensitivity to the vaccination or present with a fever.
HOW DO I AVOID GETTING MENINGOCOCCAL MENINGITIS?
Infections are often challenging to eradicate when coughing and sneezing, but following basic personal hygiene measures can help prevent them. It is best to avoid overcrowded areas for example; busy markets and local transport to reduce risk of exposure but this may not always be practical. Vaccinations will help protect against different strains of Meningitis for travellers. These vaccines are different to the ones listed in the UK childhood vaccination programme as they only cover against type Men C.