The meningococcal meningitis epidemic in Niger has jumped by another 2,000 cases and 100 deaths since last reported here about one week ago.

 Gram-negative Neisseria meningitidis diplococcal bacteria/CDC
Gram-negative Neisseria meningitidis diplococcal bacteria/CDC

The latest data, as of May 8, published by Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reveals the current case count to be 5,273 since the beginning of the year, along with 352 fatalities.

MSF, who is there providing free care, reports that 100 people are hospitalized in critical condition every day in the capital city of Niamey.

“The situation is worrying because meningitis can kill 50% of those infected and leave neurological sequelae if it is not quickly treated,” says Dr. Louis Kakudji Mutokhe, medical coordinator for MSF in Niger.

Laboratory tests have confirmed the predominance of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C in the affected areas, with Neisseria meningitidis serogroup W also being identified in several samples.

“The W135 and C strains are particularly deadly among young adults and children, as the population in this region is only immunized against the A strain following a major vaccination campaign conducted in 2010”, Mutokhe says.