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CDC recommends meningitis vaccine for children and teens


NEW YORK The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging vaccination to combat meningococcal meningitis, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Meningococcal meningitis affects 1,400 to 2,800 Americans per year, but can kill patients rapidly, especially children, sometimes within 24 hours. Early symptoms of the disease resemble the flu, but rapidly turn into high fever, vomiting, rash and, in some patients, gangrene and organ failure. About 10 percent of people who contract it die. Up to 20 percent of patients experience kidney damage, brain damage and amputations. Adolescents and young adults are at increased risk of contracting it.

Sanofi Pasteur began selling Menactra, a vaccine against the disease, in 2005. According to the Web site for the vaccine, one vaccination can help prevent a child from getting the disease. The vaccine remains effective for eight to 10 years.

The Journal reports that New Jersey will begin requiring vaccinations for sixth graders, while some states require college students to be vaccinated or sign a waiver indicating that they have decided not to be.

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