Between 31 December 2014 and 22 April 2015, the Ministry of Public Health of Niger notified WHO of 1150 suspected cases of meningococcal disease, including 129 deaths. Suspected cases have been reported in seven of Niger’s eight regions. Meningococcal meningitis outbreaks have been confirmed in several areas of Dosso and Niamey regions.
In Dosso region, 256 cases, including 25 deaths have been reported, primarily from Dogon-Doutchi and Gaya districts where several areas have exceeded the epidemic threshold.
In Niamey, 608 suspected cases, including 74 deaths, have so far been reported. Three of Niamey’s five districts (Niamey I, II and III, with a total population of over 660 000) have exceeded the epidemic threshold.
Laboratory tests have confirmed the predominance of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C in the affected areas, with Neisseria meningitidis serogroup W also being identified in several samples.
Public health response
A national epidemic committee has been activated to manage the outbreak. An international investigation team, including two MenAfrinet partners, CDC and WHO, has been deployed to support the Ministry of Public Health’s (MoH) investigation of the outbreak and reinforce the surveillance capacity in the country.
WHO and partners are providing support to the government of Niger for the implementation of mass vaccination campaigns and other emergency control measures. The International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision for Epidemic Meningitis Control has approved two vaccination requests, one from MSF and one from the MoH with support from WHO and UNICEF, releasing in total 217 370 doses of ACW vaccine, as well as 18 500 antibiotic vials to respond to the outbreak. Niger’s MoH has communicated a need for additional vaccine doses. Case management and social mobilisation activities are also ongoing.