A deadly strain of MenW (Meningococcal W) disease is rising at an alarming rate in the UK.
The strain is causing meningitis and septicaemia across all age groups especially babies, healthy teenagers and young adults and has a higher death rate associated with it than other strains of meningococcal disease.
Government advisors, the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI), have concluded that the increase in MenW disease in England and Wales constitutes an outbreak situation. They have advised that a programme to immunise everyone aged 14-18 years of age should be implemented as soon as is practicable in order to generate herd protection against MenW and prevent further rapid increases in disease amongst the rest of the population.
The Department of Health has accepted JCVI’s advice and is currently planning the implementation of a combined MenACWY immunisation programme.
In the meantime health professionals are urged to remain vigilant to the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease and keep a high index of suspicion for the MenW strain. Read more about the rise in MenW disease