Protection against Meningitis?
by Dr Patrick Quanten MD
There has been a powerful drive by the Government and the Medical Profession to vaccinate target groups at risk of catching meningitis. A lot of anxiety and fear has been the direct result of this and the media campaign which served to inform the public of the facts relating to meningitis and how to avoid the infection.
Acute meningitis can be caused by 5 families of Enteroviruses, 2 types of Herpes simplex viruses, Arboviruses, Mumps, Measles, Varicella-zoster, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus, Influenza, Adenovirus, Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, Epstein-Barr virus, Colorado tick fever, Encephalomyocarditis virus, Rhabdovirus and Cat-scratch disease. The non-viral infectious agents are: bacteria, mycosis, rickettsia, chlamydia, parasites and tremadotes. There are also a number of non-infectious causes for what is described as "encephalitis-like" syndromes: toxicity, metabolic, vascular, immune injury (arteritis), carcinomatous and mass lesions. These group all the known causes for the meningitis syndrome.
If we concentrate on the bacterial form of meningitis we find that between 80 and 90% are caused by Haemophilus influenza, Neisseria and Streptococcus pneumonia. The rest is due to Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and in new borns Escherichia Coli. Rare pathogens are Salmonella, Shigella, Clostridium perfrintogenes and Neisseria gonorrhoea. As a result of surgical procedures and lumbar punctures we found the following bacteria also responsible for meningitis: Klebsiella enterobacter, Proteus, Citrobacter and Pseudomonas.
Each group of these bacteria which can cause meningitis is subdivided into serogroups A, B, C and D; and since 1960 also X, Y and Z. Each serogroup behaves different from the next one although they are the same bacteria. For instance, your meningitis C vaccine contains Neisseria meningitidis, serogroup C, and is said to protect you from contracting meningitis by that particular Neisseria bacteria group C, not the other serogroups or any other bacteria, virus, parasite etc.
Other interesting facts
- The natural habit for these meningococcal bacteria in humans is the nose and the back of the throat.
- Outbreaks are either epidemic or sporadic diseases. There is a cyclic variation with peaks of increased frequency every 8 to 12 years, each peak lasting about 4 to 6 years. In other words, the infection rate goes up and down in time even without any interference by medical science.
- Seasonal influences are known: lowest incidence midsummer, highest late winter and early spring. Highest attack rate has been found in children between the age of 6 months and 1 year, and a further but lower peak for adolescents.
- There is a higher risk in military recruits. (How many vaccinations do these fellows get?) A study in Alaska also showed a higher risk for alcoholics.
- Case to case transmission of infection is documented rarely. 97-98% of all cases are "sporadic cases" with no obvious contact, and no other linked cases. Only about 0.5% of all new cases are associated with family contacts. Risks in the wider community context are even more remote, and probably have more to do with falls in personal immunity, rather than changes in infectivity of the bacteria.
- A carrier state is frequently detected, but this is insufficient explanation for infection of the meninges.
- The infection of the meninges occurs more often than not via the bloodstream. The factors which predisposes the carrier patient to this blood invasion are obscure but definitely include a previous viral infection of the upper respiratory track (sinuses, nose, throat, lungs). Once in the bloodstream, the factors which lead to the bacteria infiltrating the meninges are also unknown. In other words, in most patients the precise reason for the meningitis infection is completely unknown.
- The only way to distinguish between a bacterial and any other kind of infection is through a lumbar puncture, although the criteria can not be interpreted too rigidly. If the patient was treated with antibiotics before the lumbar puncture the distinction between viral and bacterial infection is almost impossible to make.
If you have been given the impression that your Meningitis C vaccination is going to protect you from getting meningitis, think again. If vaccination gives you any protection at all, it is only going to be against one of the hundreds of possible agents, and then only one group out of seven within that bacterial family.
How is vaccination going to protect you if the route and mechanism of infection is totally unknown? The only thing that is known is that any immune compromised individual is at risk. Anything that lowers your immune resistance puts you at risk. So, bad eating habits, alcohol, smoking, irregular life style, tiredness, infections, vaccinations, toxic environments, all are putting us at risk.
Who has got better after this successful vaccination campaign?
Dr Patrick Quanten MD