Meningitis ACWY

What is Meningitis ACWY?

If you are planning to travel abroad, you need to check whether you will be entering a meningococcal meningitis risk area. Meningitis is particularly prominent in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, an area sometimes referred to as the “meningitis belt”, where meningitis A is the most frequent cause of the illness, but there have been recent outbreaks of W, X and C 

The meningitis vaccine consists of one single dose, which is administered by injection. You should arrange an appointment with your Superdrug travel nurse at least three weeks before the date of your departure. 

It is recommended that children and adults aged 10 to 25 years, especially students attending university for the first time, receive a single dose of Meningitis ACWY.

The meningitis ACWY vaccine provides protection for 5 years. After this period of time, you will require a booster. 

Some countries, for example Saudi Arabia, demand that you provide a meningitis ACWY certificate prior to entering the country.

Meningitis is passed from person to person and can quickly spread amongst the population. The meningitis ACWY vaccination protects you from the bacterial infection. 

After the meningitis vaccine, you may experience side effects of redness and soreness at the injection site during the first 1 - 2 days after the vaccination. Some people also report having a high temperature as a result of the injection.

There are several types of meningitis which can affect travellers, including meningitis A, C, W, and Y. They are all types of meningococcal meningitis and are caused by bacteria. As opposed to viral meningitis, bacterial meningitis is very dangerous. Causing an inflammation of the meningeal tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord, Neisseria meningitidis bacteria can cause severe brain damage. 50% of meningitis patients who do not receive early treatment die of the infection. The symptoms of meningitis vary from person to person but usually, the infection involves a severe headache, a high temperature and vomiting. Some patients also suffer from a stiff neck, are unusually sensitive to light and feel exhausted. The most typical symptom of meningitis is a skin rash, which occurs in many but not all cases. In addition to the traditional meningitis C vaccine, there is a meningitis ACWY vaccine, which provides protection against all four meningitis types included in its name. It is particularly suitable for travellers who may be at risk of contracting any one of the four types.
Bacterial meningitis can be treated with an antibiotic. Early treatment is vital in order to prevent severe symptoms and possible irreparable damage to the brain. If you notice any meningitis symptoms in you or a fellow traveller, you should always seek help at a local hospital. Meningitis is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate attention, which is not always available when travelling. A meningitis ACWY vaccine protects effectively against type A, C, W, and Y. It does not provide protection against meningitis type B.

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