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Meningitis kills 109 from Niger

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  • Meningitis kills 109 from Niger

    Niamey - Niger became the second West African country to report a large outbreak of meningitis this year, with authorities expressing concern on Wednesday about a strain of the disease that they cannot vaccinate against.

    At least 109 people died from among 1 550 confirmed cases of meningitis between January 1 and March 26, according to Rabi Maitournam, spokeswoman for Niger's National System of Health Information.

    But she noted that the seven percent mortality rate of those infected was within the limit of 10 percent set by the World Health Organisation for the effective handling of an outbreak.

    However, the appearance of a new meningococcus - a type of bacteria which causes meningitis - has concerned authorities.

    Both Niger and Burkina Faso lie in Africa's poor "meningitis belt" that runs along the arid region south of the Sahara from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east, with a population numbering around 300 million.

    In the whole of 2005, 143 people died from the disease in Niger.

    The arid Sahel country was also struck by a drought last year. - Reuters