An increase in meningitis B infections in eastern France has led to authorities sending out 56,000 letters recommending people aged 16 to 26 and babies aged 0 to 2 be vaccinated against the infection.
The letters were sent to authorities in Chambéry (Savoie) and eastern Lyon, La Dépêche reported.
It comes after 12 cases of the rare but deadly infection have been reported in the past year, leading to one death.
Meningitis B is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria meningitidis group B that can lead to the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord becoming infected.
This strain of meningitis is rare and most people recover, but up to 10% of patients who contract it will die, sometimes within 24 hours.
A further 20% can experience long-term effects such as hearing loss, skin scarring, neurological problems or limb loss, according to meningitisB.com.
Jean-Paul Stahl, a Grenoble-based infectious diseases specialist, said vaccination against the infection is “indispensable”.
“Meningitis B is not known to cause epidemics, but it is a killer. We need to take it very seriously,” he told Le Parisien.
The strain can spread to babies aged 0 to two, who have been eligible for a vaccination against the strain since April this year.
Symptoms of meningitis B include:
- Sudden high fever
- Stiff neck
- Severe headache
You should seek medical care immediately. You can phone 112 or 15 to reach an ambulance in France.