Record low in meningitis cases27th April 2009
The government has said the number of bacterial meningitis cases in children under five has decreased by 99% since the introduction of a vaccine by the NHS in 1999.
Meningitis occurs when the brain's lining and the spinal cord are "inflamed", most commonly due to an infection.
The bacterial strain of meningitis causes death in one in 10 patients.
The jab has reduced the number of cases per year from more than 800 to just 12 cases in under-fives in 2008.
The number of meningitis C cases has also been reduced from 700 in 1999 to less than one a year.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: "Cases of meningitis are at a record low."
The combined vaccine offers children protection against pneumococcal and bacterial meningitis, as well as meningitis C.
Statistics show that 92% of babies are given the combined vaccine by the age of one. However only 83% of children are given the pneumoccocal booster by the age of five.
A Meningitis UK spokeswoman said: "It is vital that youngsters are given the vaccines available."
Meningitis charities said more research needed to be performed into meningitis B, which makes up 90% of cases.
Sue Davie, representing three UK meningitis charities which have come together to launch the first international meningitis day, said: "It is really encouraging that a Meningitis B vaccine is in the pipeline but we must remain vigilant for the signs and symptoms of the disease."
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Title: Record low in meningitis cases
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 11146
Date Added: 27th Apr 2009