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FDA Approves First Meningitis Vaccine For Babies And Toddlers

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Meningitis vaccine for infants gets FDA seal of approval

It starts with high fever, headache, and stiff neck.

Although relatively uncommon in the United States, meningitis is deadly. Even with proper care, the FDA says up to 15% of people who develop meningitis die from the infection.

The classic symptoms of meningitis may be difficult to detect and can be absent in really small children.

For years, doctors have used Menactra to vaccinate people between the ages of 2 and 55 to prevent Neisseria meningitidis, one of the leading forms of bacterial meningitis. Now, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the first vaccine to prevent meningitis in toddlers and babies as young as 9 months.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. According to the Mayo Clinic, it commonly occurs when bacteria from an upper respiratory infection enter the bloodstream, and it is highly contagious. Infants and toddlers are particularly vulnerable. It can develop in just a few hours or over a few days.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infants with meningitis may appear slow or inactive, have vomiting, be irritable, or be feeding poorly. They may also suffer seizures.

Menactra was originally approved by the FDA in 2005. It is manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Inc.

Image: Flickr.com/Novartis/AG

Visit the Babble Ear Infection Guide for kids five and older.

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