CANBERRA, Australia, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- An Australian epidemiologist wants the meningococcal vaccine studied noting the bacterial infection is affecting more people than it did 20 years ago.
Mahomed Patel of Australian National University also called for an analysis of historical patterns of meningococcal incidence to better understand, and further prevent meningitis.
"The meningococcal vaccine has been effective since its introduction in 2003, but the disease incidence rate is still higher than 20 years ago," he said. "We could do better."
Patel says although the vaccine is an important part of controlling meningococcal infections, its impact on the body's natural bacterial balance has not been adequately studied. He notes vaccines against two other bacterial infections -- pneumococci and Haemophilus influenzae type b -- were followed by an increase in the bacterial strains not covered by the vaccine.
"It's not unlikely that this may occur with the meningococcal vaccines, so the more we know about the broader role of the meningococcus bacteria in the throat, the better," Patel said.
He outlines his position in a paper published in the current issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
Copyright 2007 by United Press International.