Meningitis jab in Africa a ‘stunning success’

More than 220 million people were immunised across 16 countries in the continent’s meningitis belt. In 2013 there were just four cases, which once faced thousands of deaths each year. However, there are fresh warnings that "huge epidemics" could return unless a new vaccination programme is started.
The meningitis belt stretches across sub-Saharan Africa from Gambia in the west to Ethiopia in the east. In the worst epidemic recorded, in 1996-97, the disease swept across the belt infecting more than a quarter of a million people and led to 25,000 deaths. Unlike other vaccines, the MenAfriVac was designed specifically for Africa and in 2010 a mass vaccination campaign was started.
Laboratory-confirmed cases of meningitis A have been falling ever since:
2009 – 1,994 cases
2010 – 430 cases
2011 – 111 cases
2012 – 49 cases
2013 – four cases
"The disease has virtually disappeared from this part of the world," said Dr Marie-Pierre Preziosi from the World Health Organization.