Meningitis is a potentially deadly disease that affects more than 1 million people worldwide each year. The disease can strike people of all ages and cause death within 24 hours. Those who survive can suffer serious health problems including deafness, loss of limbs and cognitive development problems. Bacterial meningitis is particularly dangerous.
24 April is World Meningitis Day. Organised by the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO), this annual event aims to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease and to increase knowledge of available vaccines. This year’s theme is ‘24 Hours – Trust your Instincts’.
A broad range of vaccines can prevent meningitis. These include vaccines targeting meningococcal, pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) infections.
Vaccines against meningitis C, Hib and pneumococcal invasive disease are routinely given to babies in many European countries. A number of European countries also make available vaccines for teenagers against Men A, C, W and Y.
Recently, a new vaccine against meningitis B was added to the childhood vaccine schedule in the UK and Ireland, while the Czech Republic offers the jab at several life stages. MenB is the most common form of meningitis, particularly for adolescents, so protection is vital.
Efforts to raise awareness of meningitis prevention are taking place around the world. Watch this inspirational (short) documentary chronicling photographer Anne Geddes’ journey as she travelled the world to meet 15 meningitis survivors as part of the Protecting Our Tomorrows: Portraits of Meningococcal Disease.
For more information about meningitis, visit the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO)