Meningitis Vaccination Efforts Continue Amidst “Worst” West African Outbreak Since 1996
Medical teams in West Africa aim to vaccinate up to seven million people in Nigeria, Niger and Chad to stop an outbreak of meningitis that has killed nearly 1,900 in Africa's meningitis belt since January. Officials are calling the outbreak the worst since 1996, according to Afrol News (Afrol News, 4/29). More than 56,000 cases of bacterial meningitis have been reported in the three countries so far this year, according to CNN (CNN.com, 4/30). About 50,000 of those cases have been in Nigeria alone (Afrol News, 4/29). In March, the WHO said the outbreak had reached epidemic proportions in 76 areas of Niger and Nigeria. The number of meningitis cases peaks in the dry season because of dust, wind and cold nights, according to WHO.
Doctors Without Borders has already vaccinated and treated 5.4 million people in the region against the disease, with plans to vaccinate another 1.7 million (CNN.com/4/30). Ibrahim Younis, an emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders, told Afrol News that efforts to vaccinate are having an impact in some areas: "Furthermore, in relation to the number of cases we are not seeing many deaths due to the effectiveness of the antibiotic given to the patient," he said (Afrol News, 4/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.