By Manish Sadarangani in The Conversation.
A petition calling for the meningitis B vaccine to be given to all children, at least up to age 11 years, has gained a record number of signatories following the high profile case of a two-year-old child who died from the infection and whose parents believed they should have received the vaccine. So what is meningitis B and why is the vaccine for it only given to babies under the age of one?
What is meningitis B?
Meningitis is an infection of the meninges, the lining around the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by different bacteria and viruses, although bacterial infections are usually more serious.
One of the bacteria which causes meningitis is called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as the meningococcus. This bacteria commonly lives harmlessly in people’s throats, but can cause devastating disease if it gets into the blood or spinal fluid. There are different types of this bacteria and the most common is known as type B – what is often referred to as “meningitis B”, or MenB.
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