Global Alert and Response (GAR)

Meningococcal disease in Nigeria - update

The Ministry of Health of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has reported 5 323 suspected cases of meningococcal disease including 333 deaths (case-fatality rate: 6.3%) from 1 January to 22 February 2009. Suspected cases have been reported from 22 of 37 states. So far 89 Local Government Area's (LGA) across 12 states have crossed the alert or the epidemic threshold. In the last week alone, 1 817 suspected cases including 105 deaths (case-fatality rate: 5.8%) have been reported, with 28 LGAS crossing the epidemic threshold, and 29 the alert threshold.

Cerebrospinal fluid specimens collected from Gombe, Jigawa, Kano and Katsina states have tested positive for Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A by latex test and/or culture. The International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision for Epidemic Meningitis Control has approved the release of 1,010,000 doses of polysaccharide vaccine for mass vaccination campaigns in affected LGAs of Jigawa and Katsina states. Immunization campaigns will be implemented by Federal and National Ministry of Health with the support of WHO and partners, including the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), Médecins sans Frontières and UNICEF.

Given the large population at risk, the early start of epidemics, and current moderate global vaccine levels, a sound vaccination strategy is of particular importance. WHO is supporting the Federal and National Ministry of Health in the assessment of vaccine needs. WHO is also providing technical and material support to the Ministry of Health to strengthen epidemiological and laboratory surveillance, including provision of laboratory confirmation supplies.

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