Epidemic meningococcal disease (EMD) as a major public health challenge is specific to the African "meningitis belt", an area that extends from Senegal to Ethiopia with an estimated total population of 300 million.
The estimated number of cases of EMD for the last 10 years was 700,000 of whom c. 10% died. Although epidemics in the meningitis belt are traditionally associated with Neisseria meningitidis belonging to serogroup A, the occurrence of a global outbreak in 2000 was proven to be associated with N. meningitidis W135.
Containing epidemics and managing cases depends on accurate identification of the disease and laboratory confirmation of the causal organism. Enhanced epidemiological and laboratory surveillance enables early detection of epidemics. Identification of the disease-causing serogroup and selection of the vaccine to protect the population against this serogroup prevents further spread of infection, disease and death.
WHO-Multi-Disease Surveillance Centre Ouagadougou, Regional Meningitis Surveillance
Since 2001 WHO, in close collaboration with WHO collaborating centres for meningitis, has supported the implementation of enhanced field surveillance in 9 countries of the meningitis belt. A regional team, based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, collects, integrates, and analyses epidemiological and laboratory information in a timely fashion during the epidemic season. The team produces weekly epidemiological reports.
2014 Meningitis season report
Weekly reports - Bulletins hebdomadaires