NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

In a follow-up on the meningococcal meningitis outbreak reported in Tshopo province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization (WHO) published more information in a Disease Outbreak News report Monday:

Public domain image (cropped)/Calliopejen

In early July 2021, an alert of a suspected outbreak was raised to the Health Division of Tshopo Province in the north-eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The initial alert followed an increase in deaths among people presenting with symptoms including fever, headache, and stiff neck, and some with bloody diarrhea. Samples of blood and stool were collected and tested for Ebola virus disease, shigellosis and salmonellosis. These tested negative on 19 August by the National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB) lab in Kinshasa. 

Meningitis was suspected and as of 16 September, a  total of 37 samples of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were sent from the University Clinics Laboratory of Kisangani to INRB lab in Kinshasa. Of these, seven were sent to the Pasteur Institute in Paris on 1 September from Kinshasa, and were confirmed to be Neisseria meningitidis by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on 6 September. Additional testing (serotyping) was conducted on these samples from 6 to 13 September, which were identified as Serogroup W by Pasteur Institute Lab in Paris . The remaining 30 samples are planned to be sent to Pasteur Institute, Paris.  

Antibiotic susceptibility testing showed that this strain of meningococcus was susceptible to Ceftriaxone. Preliminary retrospective investigations suggested that the outbreak started in early June in two mining areas in Banalia Health Zone in the north of Kisangani, the capital of Tshopo Province. This outbreak is currently active and cases continue to be reported.  

As of 18 September 2021, a total of 608 suspected including 12 confirmed cases of meningitis, and 161 deaths (case fatality ratio of 26%), have been reported in the Banalia health zone. Among these cases, 68% (416/608) are aged 15 years or older. Additionally, 16  out of the 20 health areas of the Banalia health zone have notified at least one suspected case of meningitis. 

Read more at WHO


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