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Niger's Latest Meningitis Outbreak Turns Fatal

February 8, 2023 • 9:26 am CST
WHO meningitis cases by health district, Zinder region, Niger, 2023.
(Vax Before Travel)

The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced 18 meningitis-related fatalities (3.2% of cases) had been reported in the Zinder Region, southeast of Niger, over the past three months.

The vast majority of cases are due to Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C (NmC).

The WHO confirmed on February 8, 2023, a reactive vaccination campaign with the trivalent ACW meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine has been implemented.

Niger has been affected by several meningitis epidemics resulting in 1,369 deaths (6.6% of cases) since 2015.

Niger is located mainly in the African meningitis belt, with seasonal outbreaks recurring yearly.

However, the ongoing outbreak shows an increased number of cases and an increased growth rate compared to the previous seasons.

Furthermore, the Zinder region shares a border with Jigawa State in Nigeria, where an NmC outbreak is also ongoing.

The WHO assesses the risk posed by the current meningitis outbreak in Niger as high at the national level, moderate at the regional level, and low at the global level.

And the WHO does not recommend any restriction on travel and trade to Niger based on the current event.

Separately, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination for travelers two months old or older visiting areas of Niger that are part of the meningitis belt during the dry season.

While the CDC has not issued a Travel Alert for Niger's latest meningitis outbreak, it previously issued notices for polio and measles outbreaks.

These travel vaccines are available at select clinics and pharmacies in the U.S.