Since the beginning of the year, the West African country of Niger has been been experiencing a meningitis outbreak that has afflicted some 345 people, according to an AFP report.

meningitis epidemics
African meningitis Belt/CDC

Health minister Mano Aghali said, “From January 1 to March 29, 2015, some 345 cases of meningitis, including 45 fatalities, have been reported, which is a fatality rate of 13 percent.” Despite these numbers Aghali says “the situation is under control.”

Niger’s capital, Niamey and neighboring city in the south-west corner of the country, Dosso have accounted for 276 cases and 36 fatalities (80 percent each).

The countries of the African Meningitis Belt, including parts of Niger, face outbreaks of the deadly bacterial disease every year.

According to the global health non-profit organization, PATH, about 450 million people are at risk of the deadly disease. Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, and Ethiopia are considered hyperendemic,meaning populations in these countries are at the highest risk of developing meningitis.

This region is not only prone to meningitis, but also very prone to epidemics with other infectious diseases such as malaria.