Meningitis Symposium 2014

At the annual Meningitis Symposium, participants heard from leading health professionals on a range of topics including MenB (meningocococcal group B) vaccination, the main cause of meningitis and septicaemia in newborn babies and the effects of meningitis and septicaemia on both individuals and families


A parent's experience of meningococcal disease

Christine Etheridge

Christine’s son Ben had meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia aged 3 in 2004. Although he has made a good recovery, Christine talked about the ongoing impact the disease is having, now that Ben is becoming a teenager and undergoing surgery to lengthen his legs after growth plate damage.

JVCI recommendation on MenB

Dr Andrew Riordan

As a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and chair of its meningococcal sub-committee, Dr Riordan discussed the process by which new vaccines are considered, the information needed for a formal recommendation and the issues surrounding the new meningococcal B vaccine decision.

Timetable for MenB immunisation and other changes to the immunisation programme

Dr Mary Ramsay

What happens after JCVI have made a recommendation? Dr Ramsay outlined the next stages in the process of introducing a meningococcal B vaccine and highlighted some of the complexities surrounding this particular vaccine.

Evaluating the impact of a new meningococcal B vaccine and use of the MRF Meningococcal Genome Library

Professor Ray Borrow

Professor Borrow discussed the complexities of estimating coverage for the new meningococcal B vaccine in comparison to the meningococcal C vaccine and the problems with defining ‘vaccine failures’. He also emphasised the importance of genomic data such as the MRF Meningococcal Genome Library in the molecular typing of bacteria, and the issues surrounding characterisation of bacteria in the 50% of cases for which there is no isolate.

Neonatal meningitis 

Dr Ifeanyichukwu Okike

Having now completed the MRF-funded Neomen study, Dr Okike presented initial results from the analysis currently underway. He outlined signs and symptoms specific to babies under 3 months of age and stressed the need for improved management of cases, both in primary care and at hospital.

UK ChiMES (Childhood Meningitis and Encephalitis Study) update

Dr Manish Sadarangani

This national study, jointly funded by MRF and NIHR, is now in its second year. Dr Sadarangani stressed the importance of defining different types of meningitis earlier in order to give more targeted treatment, and the various ways this project is working to tackle this issue.

Action Meningitis in Malawi

Dr Rachel Perrin

As the UK based project coordinator for MRF’s project Action Meningitis, Rachel gave an update on the project so far, discussing pilot results from 2013 and outlining future plans to continue to implement triage in primary clinics and raise awareness of meningitis in the community.

We appreciate:

  • The Bank of Ireland for providing the auditorium free of charge
  • Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Ltd and Pfizer for unrestricted educational grants. Thanks to their generosity we were able to offer this seminar to delegates for free.

Christine Etheridge is an MRF Community Ambassador. In 2004 Christine’s son, Ben, contracted meningococcal septicaemia at three and a half years old. After being rushed to hospital by ambulance Ben was put into an induced coma and spent three weeks in intensive care. Ben recovered well, though his left leg suffered growth plate damage which caused his bones to grow abnormally. He is currently undergoing treatment to lengthen his left leg by almost 10 centimetres.

Dr Andrew Riordan is Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology at Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK.

He was Johanne Holly Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool and wrote his Doctoral Thesis on Meningococcal Disease. He has helped produce NICE guidance, standards for the care of children with HIV and advice to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Dr Mary Ramsay obtained her medical degree at University College in London. Before joining the Health Protection Agency she held an academic post at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London. She became a Consultant Epidemiologist in 1994 with responsibility for the national surveillance of vaccine preventable diseases, blood-borne hepatitis and transfusion transmissible infections. Since 2009 she has been Head of Immunisation at the Health Protection Agency, and now in Public Health England.

Professor Ray Borrow is Head of the Vaccine Evaluation Unit at Public Health England (formerly Health Protection Agency), Manchester, UK, where he is responsible for the evaluation of serological responses to various bacterial and viral vaccines with a special interest in meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccines.

Dr Ifeanyichukwu Okike is a Clinical Research Fellow at St George’s, University of London. He is responsible for coordinating the MRF-funded bacterial meningitis in infants < 90 days of age: burden of disease and assessment of healthcare delivery study (neoMen). Both studies have been collaboration with the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit (BPSU) and Public Health England (PHE).

Dr Manish Sadarangani is a Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Specialist Registrar in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology at The Children’s Hospital, Oxford. He completed his DPhil with the Oxford Vaccine Group in 2011, studying Opa proteins as a potential novel vaccine candidate for protection against serogroup B meningococcal disease, and completed a Fellowship in Paediatric Infectious Diseases in Vancouver, Canada in 2013.

Dr Rachel Perrin is International Development Officer for MRF and co-ordinates the delivery of Action Meningitis, MRF’s health initiative in Malawi.

Working closely with Thomasena O'Byrne, MRF’s Blantyre-based project manager, Rachel helps plan, implement and fundraise for the project. Rachel has a biology background and worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis before joining MRF in 2008.