April 9, 2006

More Cases of Illness Linked to Meningitis Vaccine

More cases of illness linked to meningitis vaccine
Thu Apr 6, 1:48 PM ET

Three more cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a neurological disorder involving temporary paralysis, have been reported in people given the Menactra vaccine to prevent meningitis.

The additional cases bringing the total number reported to eight, according to an article in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Still, when the eight cases of Menactra-related GBS were compared against the expected rates of GBS in populations in the same age group, no significantly increased risk was seen, suggesting that the association may have been due to chance alone.

The CDC continues to recommend Menactra for people who run a high risk for contracting meningitis, such as first-year college students living in dormitories, military recruits, and travelers to regions where meningitis is epidemic.

The possible link between the vaccine and GBS first surfaced in October 2005. At that time, five confirmed cases of the syndrome had been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. In the present report, researchers from the CDC describe in detail two of the three cases that occurred between October 2005 and February 2006.

The first case involved a 19-year-old man who began experiencing numbness and weakness in his extremities, difficulty running, and decreased dexterity 25 days after being vaccinated with Menactra. Test results were consistent with GBS, and other possible causes of the neurologic symptoms were ruled out. He was treated and had made a full recovery by eight weeks after symptoms began.

The second case, which involved a 17-year-old male, was similar to the first, but disease onset occurred just 11 days after he was given the Menactra vaccine. Treatment resulted in a complete recovery two weeks after he has admitted to the hospital.

SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, April 6, 2006.

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