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Friday 2 September 2011 saw the inauguration of Australia's first National Meningococcal Day.  We thank Western Australia's Amanda Young Foundation, Victoria's Caleb Thorburn Foundation, and New South Wales's Troy Pocock and Violet Foundations for their efforts in organising and bringing this day to fruition.

The day's events included a number of activities around the country raising awareness of meningococcal disease with particular focus on teenagers and their parents, adolescents generally being exposed to greater risk of infection. The focus of the awareness campaign was on prevention of the disease through better hygiene practices, and its early diagnosis through assertive action in seeking treatment. The media also contributed with a number of stories in print, on radio, and on television.

Despite the aggressive and lethal nature of meningococcal disease, it is unfortunately still very difficult to muster the support required from the broader community to bring the research into better treatments and prophylactic measures for the disease to a conclusion. While the number of deaths due to the disease have been significantly reduced since the introduction of the Meningococcal C vaccine, there are still around 20 annual deaths nation-wide mostly due to the Meningococcal B strain for which a vaccine is currently in clinical trials but is not as yet generally available. For every death, there are many more survivors who have been permanently disabled by the disease. Early diagnosis, even by a matter of hours, can make the difference between life and death. Even so, the disease is often misdiagnosed to the detriment of its victims and their families.

It is our sincere hope that through initiatives such as National Meningococcal Day the broader community's awareness of this disease can be raised such that rates of misdiagnosis are reduced, as well as attracting much needed funds to progress research into the disease and ultimately put an end to its blight for future generations. To this end, National Meningococcal Day also saw the launch of the new Meningococcal Australia website, providing information on the disease in a fresh and appealing manner.

For more information about Australia's first National Meningococcal Day, refer to this article.