An outbreak of meningitis in Chile, which has cost the lives of at least seven people, has caused an increase in the demand for vaccines against this infectious disease. In fact, the government of this country has just launched a campaign to vaccinate all children aged between 9 months and 5 years, which are considered the main risk group.
The Chilean Minister of Health, Jaime Mañalich, has assured that 1.9 million vaccines have already been acquired against the strain of meningococcal meningitis W-135 -Responsible for this outbreak, and that will be administered free of charge to children who are in that age group.
The government of Chile has launched a campaign to vaccinate all children aged between 9 months and 5 years, considered the main risk group
Chile is one of the countries of Latin America - along with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay - where the incidence of meningitis is higher, but this outbreak of bacterial meningitis stands out because of its aggressiveness and because, so far this year, They have confirmed 99 cases of infected people throughout the country, while between 2007 and 2011 an average of 90 cases were detected.
Although health officials want to continue extending vaccination from January as a preventive measure, they believe that the population should not be alarmed because an epidemic outbreak of meningitis, according to the definition of the Center for Disease Studies in the United States, implies that more ten cases per hundred thousand inhabitants, which has not happened in Chile, despite the fact that an increase in the number of cases has been detected with respect to other years.
In addition to the prophylaxis offered by the vaccine, health professionals have insisted that other effective preventive measures be taken, such as washing hands frequently and ventilating houses and other enclosed spaces. They also recommend that parents be alert and consult the doctor if their children have symptoms such as headache and high fever.