What is it?

Meningitis is an infection of the brain caused by a variety of bacteria or viruses, rarely fungi

Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial cause which has many different subtypes

There are vaccines for some of these subtypes

What are the symptoms of meningococcal meningitis?

The sudden onset of a stiff neck, headache and high fever

Other symptoms include sensitivity to light, confusion and vomiting

About 2\3 of people with meningococcal meningitis also develop a bruise-like rash on their bodies

Meningitis generally occurs within 14 days after exposure to meningococcal bacteria and can be aggressive and rapid in onset which is why it is often fatal

How can I contract it?

By being around other people that carry the disease and probably don’t have symptoms

When people sneeze, cough, kiss or share eating and drinking utensils, they can spread meningitis bacteria in droplets of saliva or secretions from their nose or throat

Most people that spread meningitis bacteria are not sick

Where can I contract meningitis?

Meningococcal meningitis is found worldwide

There are 13 different types of meningococcal meningitis, but types A, B, C, Y and W135 are responsible for most epidemics

Epidemics of type A occur every year in Africa, usually in the African meningitis belt during the December to June dry season but the risk is year round

Other countries, including China, Brazil and Saudi Arabia have also reported epidemics

Subgroups B and C cause most outbreaks in Canada although they are relatively rare

What vaccines are available?

There are several vaccines available for meningococcal meningitis in Canada, covering the C strain, ACYW strains and the B strain

The ACYW vaccine is commonly used for travellers to some parts of Africa and Saudi Arabia where these strains are more common

In BC meningitis C vaccine is given in childhood and now ACYW in grade school since 2017

How many shots will I need of ACYW? (Menactra)

A single dose of Men ACWY-135 vaccine ideally 2 weeks before travel

Children under the age of 2 need 2 doses

Will I need a booster?

Possibly

A booster may be recommended after several years depending on your age, health, vaccination status and continued risk level for contracting meningitis

How can I prevent meningitis?

Avoid crowded areas like public markets

Avoid close physical contact with locals who may not be vaccinated

Avoid sharing cups, water bottles, cigarettes, food and utensils

Wash or sanitize your hands if you come into contact with an object that could be contaminated with nasal secretions

What is the treatment for meningococcal meningitis?

Meningitis is extremely serious, often fatal despite treatment and requires immediate hospitalization and antibiotics

If left untreated, it has a mortality rate approaching 100 percent

Of those who recover, up to 15% will be left with serious after effects including hearing loss, brain damage, seizures, gangrene, amputations and kidney damage or failure

Bacterial meningitis can also cause a serious blood infection called septicemia

"The Burnaby location has very nice staff that makes your less than fun stay much better (who likes being stuck by one or more needles). They give vaccinations for basically anything that you could need wile out travelling the world. "
Mike G - Yelp