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Dramatic Fall In Cases Of Meningitis A In Three West African Nations After New Vaccine Introduction

Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger report the lowest number of confirmed meningitis A cases ever recorded during an epidemic season this year following the successful introduction of a new vaccine that could eliminate the primary cause of the deadly disease from Africa's meningitis belt, announced the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) today, which spearheaded development of the vaccine. Also today, a new analysis published in the journal Health Affairs shows that introducing this vaccine in seven highly endemic African countries could save as much as US$300 million over a decade and prevent a million cases of disease.

With the 2010-2011 epidemic season largely over, surveillance data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) show just four confirmed cases of meningitis A in Burkina Faso, the first country to introduce the vaccine nationwide. Three of the four cases occurred in individuals from neighboring Togo who crossed the border for medical care, and the fourth case was a citizen of Burkina Faso who had not received the new vaccine. No confirmed cases were reported in Mali, while four cases were reported in Niger, all in unvaccinated individuals. While these initial data are extremely encouraging, continuing surveillance for cases of meningitis and robust systems for monitoring vaccination coverage will be crucial to confirm the impact of the vaccine as it is introduced across the meningitis belt.

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