23/04/03

Burkina Faso suffers lack of meningitis vaccine

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Queuing for meningitis vaccines
in Burkina Faso
Despite pleas last October to prepare for a serious outbreak of bacterial meningitis, public health officials are scrambling to halt a mounting epidemic in Burkina Faso.

The situation is caused in part by an uncommon and hard-to-fight strain of the Neisseria meningitidis bacterium known as W135. Although some supplies of a new vaccine effective against this strain reached the country last week, they are not nearly enough, says William Perea of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Public health officials will be forced to ration the limited supply in a way that saves as many lives as possible, and WHO officials are now trying to figure out how best to distribute the available doses of vaccine.

Link to full Science news article

Reference: Science 299, 1499 (2003)

Related external links:

WHO: vaccine provision for epidemic meningitis control

Photo credit: JHU/CCP / Rebecca Stoltzfus, MNH Program