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Monday, 31 January, 2000, 14:19 GMT
The meningitis files
Meningitis is one of the most terrifying diseases. It can be fatal in hours yet its early symptoms resemble self-limiting conditions like flu and colds. BBC News Online's health team offers a guide to the disease, the issues it raises for the health service and the science employed to defeat it.
Meet the disease
Meningitis is an inflammation of the brain lining and is mostly found in bacteria and viruses - the bacterial form is the more life-threatening.

The 1999 panic
Meningitis outbreaks are generally more likely during the winter months - the winter of 1999 in particular saw several serious outbreaks.

Preventive measures
Cases of meningitis increased in the late 1990s - focusing more attention on finding a vaccine against the main strains of the disease.

International picture
Few countries have begun a routine vaccination campaign against meningococcal meningitis, but some have tighter guidelines on how to respond to epidemics.


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