British Babies get Vaccination Against Meningococcal Group B – 11th September 2015

The latest: vaccinations and travel health news

Here’s the latest news about travel vaccination and related subjects.

British babies get vaccination against meningococcal group B

Babies in Britain are being offered a vaccination against meningococcal group B, which can lead to meningitis.

It’s all down to Public Health England, who are launching a new initiative for young children from 1st September, when the shot will be added to the NHS Childhood Immunisation Programme in England. Parents of babies will be offered the MenB vaccine at the two month, four month and 12-13 month stages. The jab will help protect infants when they’re at the highest risk of developing the disease, since the number of cases usually peaks at 5-6 months of age.

Back in March 2014, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended a national MenB immunisation programme for babies. A year later, this March, the new Bexsero vaccine programme was confirmed. According to Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England:

“The disease develops rapidly and early symptoms in babies and young children can include a high fever with cold hands and feet, vomiting and refusing to feed, agitation, drowsiness or being floppy or unresponsive, grunting or breathing rapidly or having an unusual high-pitched or moaning cry. Be aware of all signs and symptoms and trust your instincts – don’t wait for a rash to develop before seeking urgent medical attention.”

Parents urged to use paracetamol to treat new meningitis jab fever

British parents are being recommended paracetamol to cut the fever in babies who receive the new meningitis vaccine.

The new scheme, as we reported above, is the first national, publicly-funded vaccination programme against the infection, but the vaccine sometimes causes a mild fever. The experts are recommending parents use infant paracetamol to treat it.

Apparently the fever peaks about six hours after the baby is given the vaccination, but it almost always disappears within two days and is usually mild. The fever happens because the baby’s body is responding to the vaccine in a perfectly normal way, generating essential antibodies. The level of fever depends on the individual baby, and many won’t get any fever at all.

A mild fever is much better, in the scheme of things, than catching meningitis. 1200 people suffer from the diseases in the UK every year, most of whom are babies and children, and around ten die.

Genetically modified male mosquitoes fight yellow fever

Researchers are testing a new way to cure Dengue Fever, using genetically-modified male mosquitoes. In India the Gangabishan Bhikulal Investment and Trading company are testing a new UK technology developed a few years ago by Professor Luke Alphey of the Department of Zoology at Oxford University. Several other countries, including the USA and Panama, are also testing the method, which is designed to control the particular type of mosquito responsible for Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever and Chikungunya.

The new technology, which has already proved fruitful in Brazil, harnesses genetically engineered male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes whose genetic modification makes them sterile. The same genetic modification is passed on to any offspring, who die at the larval stage. The insects’ 15 day life cycle means that when enough of them are released into the wild, the population can plummet dramatically and quickly.

The benefits are clear. The fewer mosquitoes there are, the less likely you are to be infected. But prevention is better than a cure. We provide vaccination against yellow fever, even at the last minute, so don’t travel to at-risk areas without it.

Alert – Rabid dogs in Thailand

Reports say eight people bitten by four different dogs in Perlis, Thailand, are doing well despite the fact that two of the dogs had rabies. All the people bitten are being given outpatient treatment, and those bitten by the rabid dogs are being given the Rabies Vaccine.

The local Health Department is reacting fast, with extra preventative measures including a new Rabies Prevention and Operations Control Room, more rabies health alerts to doctors about reported incidents, a stockpile of rabies vaccine and better education for local people. They recommend you take extra care around dogs and wild animals if you’re travelling to the Perlis, Kedah, Perak and Kelantan areas.

As a traveller, it’s far better to get the vaccination before you go than wait until after you’ve been bitten! Just call us to make an appointment, and get your rabies vaccination sorted out as soon as you can before you leave.

WHO steps into action over Tanzania cholera outbreak

The World Health Organization is collaborating with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health to find the source of a fast-spreading cholera epidemic in the country and contain it.

So far the disease has killed eight people and infected more than four hundred in Tanzania. The WHO believes the epidemic broke out in the Dar es Salaam and Morogoro areas around two weeks ago, a theory borne out by the fact that the Dar es Salaam region has already seen 354 of the 404 cases of cholera, seven of whom have died.

The WHO says the outbreak caught health officials by surprise, and it’s also spreading surprisingly fast. In their words:

“The spike is an unusual spike right now because it jumped in short time from a few hundred cases to the 404 cases. Yet cholera is endemic in Tanzania, so, as such, it is not a worrying situation, but it needs to be addressed.”

In reaction the organisation is setting up five operational treatment centres in the affected area with medical supplies, disinfectants and water treatment chemicals.

There’s no apparent link between the previous, very bad outbreak in western Tanzania, on the borders of Lake Tanganyika and Burundi, which killed dozens, affected thousands and is now under control.

We provide cholera vaccinations. Just call to make an appointment.

Back next week with another travel health update

We’ll be back next week with the latest vaccination and travel health news, from home and abroad. In the meantime, if you have any travel vaccination-related questions, feel free to ask.