Meningococcus (Neisseria meningitis) is a germ that causes serious diseases such as meningitis and blood infection.
Meningococcal disease is an uncommon, but sometimes life-threatening illness. Meningococcal disease develops rapidly and causes the tissues that surround the brain and spinal cord to become swollen and inflamed.
Meningococcal serogroups are designated by letters of the alphabet. Around the world, serogroups A, B, C, W135 and Y most commonly cause disease.
The MenACWY-TT-104 study began in April 2014. All children in the study received either one or two doses of the Meningococcal ACWY vaccine (Nimenrix) at between 12 and 14 months of age. This ongoing study is being conducted to try to answer the question are two doses better than one and can the vaccine be given at the same time as the pneumococcal vaccine now given to infants at two, four and 12 months of age.
Up to December 2018, of the 37 cases of invasive meningococcal disease notified in WA, 27 were serogroup W, seven serogroup B and three serogroup Y meningococcal infections. From July 1 2018, all children are offered the MenACWY vaccine Nimenrix at 12 months of age as part of their routine immunisations.
Our young study participants now return to our clinic biennially. In 2019, they will return for their last study visit and the blood sample we collect will give us very important information about how long vaccine protection persists.
Study participant Zoe brought her family in to check out our new research clinic.
Photo credit: Paul A Thompson Photography
MenB Toddler Study
Children under four years of age are at greatest risk of developing Meningococcal B disease than any other age group. Until recently, around 90 per cent of serious meningococcal infections in WA were caused by serogroup B organisms. However, there has been an increase in infections caused by serogroup W organisms (MenW) in WA and other Australian states since 2015.
While we routinely vaccinate against meningococcal disease caused by the C strain, we do not currently have a vaccine on the Australian National Immunisation Schedule to protect against the B strain, although a licensed meningococcal B vaccine is available privately.
30 toddlers aged 12 to 24 months took part in the Meningococcal B Toddler Study at Vaccine Trials Group. Recruitment finished on 22 August 2016 and the study has now entered Stage 2 of the study protocol. Stage 2 involves a further three years of following up the eligible children to assess the duration of the immune response (how well your child makes antibodies after having the vaccine), providing vital information on the long-term effectiveness of the vaccine.
The AMEND Study is being completed to assess the outcomes for adolescents and young adults following meningococcal disease and how the disease affects patients and their families.
Participants are being enrolled from participating hospitals in Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne. We hope to enrol around 110 patients aged between 15 to 24 years at the time of diagnosis and admitted to hospitals in Australia with meningococcal disease from 2006 to 2018.
We would also like to assess quality of life of meningococcal survivors and their families after the disease and how much it costs the government and families to treat the disease and complications. The information gathered will be important in determining the benefits of current and future strategies for protection against meningococcal disease and management for those affected.