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 http://www.meningitis.ca.

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

 

Phone or Fax - (519) 664-0244
or Toll-free 1-800-643-1303
E-mail - fund@meningitis.ca
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P.O. Box 28015 R.P.O. Parkdale
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8
Charitable Registration # 89751 8429 RR0001
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