There are vaccines available (see below), but they don't protect against all strains (serogroups) of meningococcus. So it's important to take other precautions.
Parents, teachers and carers can help prevent the spread of meningococcal disease by keeping a watchful eye - in the home, schoolyard and at sports functions and school camps - to check that good hygiene practice is being followed.
As meningococcal bacteria are passed on via mucus, it's important to warn children against certain practices.
Precautions to take:
- food, dips, icecreams
- drinks, bottles, straws
- lipstick or lip gloss
- mouth guards
- musical instruments with mouth pieces
- don't suck the end of a shared pen or pencil
- don't suck baby's dummy before putting it in baby's mouth
- watch out for toddlers sucking and sharing toys
The predominant strains of meningococcal bacteria differ from country to country, and even from state to state. In Australia, the majority of cases are caused by Group B. A vaccine for Meningococcal B has been approved for use in 2014. While it is not part of our government's immunisation program, you can access the vaccine through your GP. There is a cost and the treatment will involve a course of vaccinations.
The vaccine for C- strain has been part of our government funded vaccination program since 2003.
For adults and children over 12 months, one vaccination will protect (against C-strain only) for approximately 15 years, and possibly longer. For babies under 12 months, a course of vaccinations is necessary.
Children and teenagers aged from 1-19 years have been progressively vaccinated free of charge under the government's vaccination program during the four year period from 2003- 2006. People of any age can be vaccinated at their own cost.
Vaccination against A,C,W & Y strains (commonly referred to as the Travellers Vaccination)
This vaccination gives short term protection against the A,C,W & Y strains, which until recently have been more common in other countries. These strains, in particular the W strain, are becoming more prevelant in Australia
Please check with your doctor about getting this vaccination.
Remember, while vaccination will give you long term protection against the deadly C-strain, it won't protect you from catching another strain with the same symptoms, which can also cause death. So it's still important to be vigilant, to take other precautions and to ask your doctor about the B-strain and C-strain vaccinations.
Information & Images courtesy 'Fighting Meningococcal Diseases' 2003 Media One