Important to Prevent Infant Meningitis
HOUSTON, Aug. 5, 2013 Meningitis Angels are celebrating the announcement of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) expanded approval of Menveo, a vaccine used to help prevent meningococcal disease caused by four strains (A,C,Y, W-135) of the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis (N. meningitidis). The vaccine is now approved for use in infants and toddlers starting as early as 2 months of age.
Meningococcal disease is an aggressive, fast-acting illness that can affect previously healthy babies and may lead to death within 24 hours. According to experts, infants, in addition to adolescents, are most susceptible to contracting meningococcal disease in the U.S. The highest fatality rates are also recorded in these age groups.
"We are fooling ourselves if we believe that meningococcal meningitis is just a teen or college disease," said Frankie Milley, founder and national director of Meningitis Angels. "Even though there is still no approved vaccine in the U.S. to help protect against meningococcal serogroup B infections, the fifth remaining serogroup, this is a huge step in the fight against meningococcal disease in infants."
With this approval, a vaccine can now help protect infants and toddlers against four of the five serogroups that cause this seriously debilitating and sometimes fatal disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the overall case fatality rate associated with meningococcal disease is 10%-14%, while up to 20% of survivors suffer serious life-long consequences, including, blindness, deafness, brain damage, organ damage or limb loss.
Meningitis Angels knows firsthand the devastation this disease can cause. Milley lost her only child, Ryan, to the disease when he was 18 years old. "Within our organization over the years we have seen the consequences of this disease on our children. It seems to me that babies experience the worst outcome. I have seen once beautiful babies and young children suffer the loss of their faces, tongues, limbs, vision and hearing. They sometimes develop a severe seizure disorder, organ and brain damage and some even die," stated Milley.
The CDC and their Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) now have to make the important decision of whether to recommend that all infants receive this lifesaving vaccine in order to move towards eradicating this unpredictable and devastating disease. Current ACIP meningococcal vaccine recommendations include adolescents aged 11 through 18 years, infants aged 2 months or older who are considered to have increased risk for the disease.
Milley and Meningitis Angels plan to attend ACIP's hearings later this year to plead the case that recommending vaccination in infants is the right thing to do as it can save lives.
"No infant should suffer what some have previously experienced. No parent should have to watch their once perfect child lay in a hospital for months, body rotting away and have to sign papers for doctors to amputate body parts bit by bit. No parent should have to stand helplessly and watch their child literally bleed to death, as I did, from a disease that is preventable with a vaccine," continued Milley. "When it comes to prevention of deadly disease through vaccination, we all must do the right thing and vaccinate."
For more information on meningitis visit www.meningitis-angels.org.
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