Meningitis rate among kids halved

Kyodo

The incidence of bacterial meningitis among children aged 4 and under has fallen by half in Japan since authorities began subsidizing vaccinations against a bacterium believed responsible for the disease, a health ministry study group said Thursday.

The rate of infection in 2011 was half of the average for the three-year period through 2010.

The percentage of children suffering from pneumococcal meningitis in 2011 also dropped by 25 percent from the average of the three-year period, after subsidies for vaccinations against a bacterium causing the illness began in November 2010, the group said.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry survey showed that 3.3 out of 100,000 children under 5 in 10 prefectures developed bacterial meningitis caused by infection with the haemophilus influenzae type b bacterium, known as Hib, in 2011, down 57 percent from the average of 7.7 in the preceding period between 2008 an 2010.

The ratio of children contracting other diseases such as pneumonia and arthritis also caused by Hib in 2011 fell about 45 percent compared with the average for 2008 to 2010.

The rate of acquired pneumococcal meningitis through infection with the streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium in children under 5 was 2.1 per 100,000 in 2011, down from the average figure of 2.8 in the preceding three years.