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FDA Approves Sanofi-Aventis Vaccine for Meningococcemia

Recombinomics Commentary
January 17, 2005

>>Menactra protects against one of three types of meningitis bacteria that strike the fluids surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The infection can cause seizures, brain damage and memory loss, and can even kill otherwise healthy people in less than 48 hours.

The strain Menactra targets infects up to 3,000 Americans each year, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ten percent of people infected with the strain die from the disease despite treatment with antibiotics.

Meningitis can occur in young children but frequently crops up among older teenagers and young adults living in close quarters, such as college students or military recruits.

Sanofi-Aventis plans to apply next month for approval to market Menactra for vaccinating children ages 2 through 11, according to the FDA's letter.<<

Menactra does target meningococcal A organisms so it should be useful in the Philippines, at least for the meningococcemia confirmed cases older than 11.  As noted above, the case fatality rate is about 10%.  In contrast the meningo-like cases in the Philippines have a case fatality rate of 68%.  Media reports of a spike in cases this year indicate that there are now well over 100 suspect cases in the country.

Although the disease has been acknowledged as a secondary infection to influenza, there are no reports of testing patients for bird flu or antibody to H5N1.

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