In addition to Niger in West Africa reporting a serious outbreak of meningococcal and pneumococcal meningitis this year that has taken the lives of about 75 in two major cities, other countries in the region are being especially hard hit since the beginning of the year.

Nigeria map divided by states/United Nations
Nigeria map divided by states/United Nations

The outbreak of “utmost concern” is the one in Nigeria. The outbreak that started in mid-January in Kebbi State, has grown to having been reported in 26 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of three States: Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara. The case tally stands at 1380 cases, including 83 deaths as of 5 April 2015, according to the Federal Ministry of Health of Nigeria.

Health officials note that Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C is the type reported in confirmed cases.

Also in West Africa, in the country of Ghana the meningitis outbreak is ongoing in Upper West Region. As of 5 April 2015, 205 cases with 23 deaths have been reported in the country.

WHO and partners, including Médecins Sans Frontières and UNICEF, are closely monitoring the situation, and providing support to the government of Nigeria for the implementation of a mass vaccination campaign and other emergency control measures. The International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision for Epidemic Meningitis Control has released 204 850 doses of vaccine, with the support of the GAVI Alliance, as well as 5000 antibiotic vials to respond to the outbreak. Case management and social mobilization activities are also ongoing.

Related: Nigeria health minister on ‘mystery illness’: Strong link to methanol contaminated gin 

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