Meningococcal infection can cause meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord), septicaemia (blood poisoning) or both. It is the most common bacterial cause of meningitis in the UK. The bacteria, Neisseria meningitidis, normally lives in the back of the throat and nose and around 1 in 10 people carry the bacteria without having the disease. The bacteria is spread through sneezing, coughing and kissing.
There are several strains of Neisseria meningitidis-A, B, C, W135, Y and Z. Group A is responsible for the majority of infections in the ‘meningitis belt’ of Africa and until recently, meningococcal strains B and C were mainly responsible for the majority of infection in the UK. However, the advent of a vaccine against meningitis strain C has meant that Meningococcal group B is the culprit in 85-90% of cases.
Meningococcal infection can occur at any age, but around half of cases are in those under 5 years of age, particularly infants less than 1 year. The second main age group is between 15-19 years of age (around 1 in 4 teenagers carry the bacteria).
Symptoms can develop within hours and can be non-specific. It is harder to identify the infection in babies. The rash does not always occur. In children and adults symptoms can include:
In babies there may also be:
Septicaemia occurs if the bacteria enter the bloodstream. A characteristic rash develops and may start as a cluster of pinprick blood spots under the skin, spreading to form bruises under the skin. The rash can appear anywhere on the body. It can be distinguished from other rashes by the fact that it does not fade when pressed under the bottom of a glass (the tumbler test).
The infection is treatable with antibiotics. Prompt treatment is essential as the bacteria spreads rapidly. Fatality occurs in about 10% of cases of meningitis and up to 50% of cases of septicaemia. Around 10% of survivors have a major disability as a consequence of the infection.
Vaccination is now available against the common circulating strains of meningoccocus. At The Dunnottar Clinic, we offer the following vaccine.
The recently developed vaccine against meningococcus group B, which has now been approved by the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations and is licensed for use in the UK.
The vaccine is effective against around 88% of the UK circulating strains of meningococcus group B and 78% of the European circulating strains.
It can be given from 2 months of age as a three dose schedule. Each dose is separated by a minimum of one month.
From 6 months, it is given as a 2 dose schedule separated by a minimum of two month.
Administering with other Vaccines
Group B Meningitis Vaccines can be given at the same time as the following vaccines-
MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
Pneumococcal vaccine (conjugated)
If administering other vaccines at the same time, because of the increased risk of fever always consider giving paracetamol. The vaccines should be administered on different limbs.
For all other vaccines, as there is no data, the advice is avoid administering at the same time, and to leave a one week gap.
A further dose within 1-2 years will be required depending on age after the primary schedule. The duration of protection and further doses has not yet been determined.
It can be given at the same time as other childhood vaccines and the side effect profile is similar to other vaccines.
Group B Meningitis Vaccination is now available at The Dunnottar Clinic and costs £140 per dose.
You can reach us on:
0345 337 1160
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The Dunnottar Clinic @
Stonehaven Medical Centre
32 Robert Street
Meningitis B update -
Meningitis B vaccination out with NHS immunisation schedule - See more detail in Our services section or contact us to enquire further.
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