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Meningitis hits Wales

Extra supplies of meningitis vaccines and antibiotics were drafted into the South Wales town of Pontypridd this month. More than 1,700 pupils and staff at two schools were vaccinated after two women and a 15-year old boy died. Thousands of worried parents from South Wales besieged helplines to the Meningitis Research Foundation, where a spokeswoman said, 'Figures show there are peaks and troughs in notifications of meningococcal disease and at the moment we are in a peak'

The local health authority came in for criticism for delaying the implementation of a vaccination programme, and for not extending the programme to other unaffected schools in the area. They were, however, following national guidelines as the currently available polysaccharide vaccines provide only suboptimal, short-lived immunity, and they are ineffective in younger children (the group at greatest overall risk from disease). Improved vaccines against serogroup C meningococcal disease are undergoing clinical trials and, if found to be safe and effective, should be introduced to the childhood routine immunisation schedule within a few years.

BMJ 20 February; The Birmingham Post 10 February.

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