Alert to the increase in cases of meningitis this winter: a consequence of the covid epidemic?

2023-11-25 17:37:00

According to experts, thesignificant increase in meningitis cases since September 2022 would be a direct consequence of containment measures put in place to stem the spread of Covid. These measures have not only slowed the transmission of the virus, but also that of other respiratory infections. Consequently, our immune defenses, less stressed, would have weakened.

Dr Ala-Eddine Deghmane, deputy head of the National Reference Center for Meningococci at the Pasteur Institute, explains that meningococci, responsible for meningitis, have seen an unprecedented increase in cases of 36% compared to 2019 in recent months. This disease, potentially fatal without treatment, can leave serious following-effects in survivors. Pasteur’s team warns once morest a risk of increased cases of meningitis with the arrival of the flu epidemic this winter, because the flu virus increases the risk of later contracting meningitis.

Furthermore, a worrying evolution in the profile of the bacteria responsible for meningitis has been observed. Before 2020, serogroups B and C were the main culprits, justifying compulsory vaccination once morest C and recommendation once morest B in infants in France. However, group C has almost been replaced by two other cousins, W and Y, since then.

Dr Deghmane highlights the importance to quickly adapt vaccine recommendations to include protection once morest these new serogroupsespecially for adolescents and young adults, among which 16-24 year olds are particularly affected. This age group is more vulnerable because of its lifestyle, which is conducive to the spread of bacteria by spit, particularly in class, in sports clubs and at parties. THE Symptoms of meningitis include neck stiffness, fever, vomiting, and purplish spots on the skin.

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Unfortunately, financial obstacles hinder access to necessary vaccines, particularly that once morest meningococcus B, which has not been reimbursed for adolescents since 2022. Faced with this critical situation, Experts are calling for new recommendations and coverage by Health Insurance to counter the growing threat of meningococcal infections.

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