The University of Adelaide is conducting a statewide study in collaboration with South Australian Health. Up to 60,000 students in the region will get free vaccine against the deadly meningococcal B. Students belonging to schools participating in the study during 2017-2018 all over South Australia will benefit from it.

"South Australia has had the highest rate of meningococcal disease in Australia since 2012, with more cases in adolescents than infants. It is vital we learn more about the disease and the benefits of vaccinating against meningococcal B," said associate professor Helen Marshall.

A report in InDaily says that there were 229 cases of meningococcal B strain that affects mostly infants and children from 2006 to now. However, there are only six reported instances of tax-payer-funded meningococcal vaccines during the aforementioned period. B is the most common among the strains of the disease but a vaccination against it is available only in private markets. It will cost within the range of $140 to $150. The situation is about to change from 2017 when South Australian students from 10 to 12 years old will get the same free of charge.

The study is called “B Part of It” and is funded by GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of the vaccine. Full participation will cost the company $15 million. However, its success will help scientists develop “herd immunity” for the first time in history. It will not only vaccinate a person, but will also prevent the individual from carrying or spreading it to others.

What is meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is a rare and life-threatening condition that happens due to bacterial infection of blood or the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The illness can be treated with antibiotics. But the infection spreads fast and one has to seek urgent medical intervention at the earliest sign of the same.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease

The most common form of meningococcal infection is meningitis. It affects the membrane that protects brain and the spinal cord. It swells and the person starts suffering from symptoms like sudden fever, vomiting, nausea and stiff neck.