Meningitis vaccines help protect against gonorrhea

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A meningitis vaccine can be helpful in preventing gonorrhea. Jamie Grill Atlas/Stocksy United
  • Researchers say a meningitis vaccine can help prevent gonorrhea.
  • They say it’s because the bacteria that cause disease are closely related.
  • Experts say young adults as well as people who live nearby should consider getting the meningitis vaccine.

It’s a strange fact that the bacteria that cause meningitis and gonorrhea – two infectious diseases that otherwise have almost nothing to do with each other – are biologically related.

And that’s probably why people who get vaccinated against meningitis also seem to have some protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

“The bacteria that causes meningitis and the bacteria that causes gonorrhea belong to the same family of bacteria,” said Dr. Cindy M. Duke, virologist and lab director at the Nevada Fertility Institute and assistant clinical professor at the School of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. of Medicine. “So even though they’re different, it’s like having a brother and a sister.”

A trio of new studies show that the 4CMenB vaccine, given to prevent inflammation of the brain and spinal cord associated with meningitis, can also prevent a third or more of gonorrhea infections.

“Our results suggest that meningitis vaccines that are only moderately effective in protecting against gonorrhea could have a major impact on disease prevention and control,” said Dr Winston Abara, Epidemic Intelligence Officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STDs and Tuberculosis Prevention. “Clinical trials focused on the use of 4CMenB against gonorrhea are needed to better understand its protective effects and could also offer important insights into the development of a vaccine specifically against gonorrhea.”

the study led by Abara found that people aged 16 to 24 who were fully vaccinated against meningitis with two doses of 4CMenB were 40% less likely to have gonorrhea infections. Those who received a single dose of 4CMenB had a 26% reduced risk of developing the disease.

Duke told Healthline that because the bacteria are closely related, antibodies made in response to a meningitis vaccine injection can also boost the immune response against gonorrhea infection.

She noted that although there is currently no gonorrhea vaccine, meningitis vaccines are often given when teenagers or young adults go to camp or college, where the diseases can spread. quickly because people are housed in cramped quarters.

“The problem with meningitis is that once you get the infection, it moves very quickly,” Duke said. “It’s the inflammation of the lining that covers your brain and spinal cord. And if not caught and treated early with the right antibiotic, it can literally lead to seizures, brain death, and death. And if someone doesn’t die, paralysis.

Prevention is also a key measure.

“The best protection is to use a condom,” Duke said.

Gonorrhea can be treated with a single dose injection of an antibiotic such as ceftriaxone, but, “because there is so much gonorrhea right now, there is an increase in the number of resistant gonorrhea out there” , Duke noted.

Although the protection offered by the meningitis vaccine is not complete, it may become more important as the gonorrhea bacteria become increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

“With a gonorrhea-specific vaccine likely to take years to develop, a key question for policy makers is whether the 4CMenB meningitis vaccine should be used against gonorrhea infection,” said Peter White. , Ph.D., professor of public health modeling at Imperial. London College.

His study young men who have had sex with men concluded that the meningitis vaccine could prevent 110,000 cases of gonorrhea in the UK each year.

“Our analysis suggests that giving the vaccine to those most at risk of infection is the most cost-effective way to prevent large numbers of cases,” he said.

A third study found that 4CMenB was highly effective in preventing bacterial meningitis in adolescents and young adults in Australia, as well as 33% against gonorrhea infections.

Meningitis refers to inflammation of the meninges, the protective fluid membrane around the brain. It can have several causes, including bacterial, viral, parasitic, and fungal infections.

Bacterial meningitis is one of the most dangerous forms of the disease: approximately one in 10 people with bacterial meningitis dieswhile up to 20% of survivors develop permanent impairment as a result of infection.

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