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Vaccine-preventable Diseases

The ECDC programme on vaccine-preventable diseases and invasive bacterial infections covers general issues concerning vaccination and the following diseases: diphtheria, influenza, infections with Haemophilus influenzae type B, measles, meningococcal disease, mumps, pertussis, pneumococcal infections, poliomyelitis, rubella, tetanus, varicella- infection.













Diphtheria is an acute disease caused by toxin-producing strains of Corynebacterium diphtheriae (in some cases also by Corynebacterium ulcerans) bacteria, that is known to colonise mucous membranes.

Haemophilus influenzae type b disease (Hib)Hib is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in children aged two months to five years, in those countries where suitable vaccination programmes are not in place.

Vaccines represent the most effective and cost-saving public health intervention after general hygiene improvements.

General information about seasonal influenza vaccines and pandemic vaccines.

Measles is an acute illness caused by morbillivirus. The disease is transmitted via airborne respiratory droplets, or by direct contact with nasal and throat secretions of infected individuals.

Meningococcal disease
Meningococcal disease is caused by Neisseria meningitidis, a bacterium with human carriers as the only reservoir.

Mumps is an acute illness caused by the mumps virus. It is characterised by fever and swelling of one or more salivary glands. It is the only cause of epidemic infectious parotitis.

Pertussis is an acute bacterial infection of the respiratory tract caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. The disease is characterised by a severe cough, lasting for two months or even longer.

Pneumococcal infection
Despite good access to effective antibiotics, Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococci) is still a major cause of disease and death in both developing and developed countries. Pneumococci are the main cause of bacterial respiratory tract infections.

Polio is caused by polioviruses, classified into types 1, 2 and 3. Humans are the only reservoir of infection. Transmission occurs via the oral-faecal route or contact with saliva.

Rabies is a disease caused by rabies virus (a Lyssavirus). Classic rabies is essentially a zoonosis (infection that could spread from animals to humans), and most animals are susceptible to it. The main reservoir is wild and domestic canids.

Rubella is a mild febrile rash illness caused by rubella virus. It is transmitted from person to person via droplets. It affects mainly children and when pregnant women are infected, it may result in malformation of the foetus.

Tetanus is an often fatal disease, which is present worldwide. It is a consequence of a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. The main reservoirs of the bacterium are herbivores.

Varicella infection (chickenpox)
Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which also causes shingles. The virus spreads through the body into the skin causing rashes to appear.


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