April 6, 2006

More cases of illness linked to meningitis vaccine

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Three more cases of
Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a neurological disorder
involving temporary paralysis, have been reported in people
given the Menactra vaccine to prevent meningitis.

The additional cases bringing the total number reported to
eight, according to an article in the Morbidity and Mortality
Weekly Report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and

Still, when the eight cases of Menactra-related GBS were
compared against the expected rates of GBS in populations in
the same age group, no significantly increased risk was seen,
suggesting that the association may have been due to chance

The CDC continues to recommend Menactra for people who run
a high risk for contracting meningitis, such as first-year
college students living in dormitories, military recruits, and
travelers to regions where meningitis is epidemic.

The possible link between the vaccine and GBS first
surfaced in October 2005. At that time, five confirmed cases of
the syndrome had been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events
Reporting System. In the present report, researchers from the
CDC describe in detail two of the three cases that occurred
between October 2005 and February 2006.

The first case involved a 19-year-old man who began
experiencing numbness and weakness in his extremities,
difficulty running, and decreased dexterity 25 days after being
vaccinated with Menactra. Test results were consistent with
GBS, and other possible causes of the neurologic symptoms were
ruled out. He was treated and had made a full recovery by eight
weeks after symptoms began.

The second case, which involved a 17-year-old male, was
similar to the first, but disease onset occurred just 11 days
after he was given the Menactra vaccine. Treatment resulted in
a complete recovery two weeks after he has admitted to the

SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, April 6,