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Meningitis jabs rolled out

21st March 2007

International groups are rolling out a fast-track vaccination programme in four African countries in an attempt to contain an outbreak of meningitis, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a statement.

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It said 1,670 people had died of the disease so far in the outbreak, which has spread across Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Uganda, with a total of 15,595 cases reported.

WHO and the Paris-based humanitarian group Medicins Sans Frontieres, were working together to deliver mass vaccinations to around 1.5 million people, the UN body said.

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges, the thin lining that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. Several different bacteria can cause meningitis. Neisseria meningitidis is one of the most important because of its potential to cause large epidemics. Meningococcal disease was first described in 1805 when an outbreak swept through Geneva, Switzerland.

The bacteria are transmitted from person to person through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions.

 

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