Bacterial meningitis is an important cause of serious illness and death worldwide. The meningitis belt of sub-Saharan Africa, stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east, has the world’s largest share of the disease.
Acute bacterial meningitis is a rapidly developing inflammation of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can cause severe brain damage and is fatal in 50% of cases if untreated. Common symptoms include acute fever, headache, stiffness of the neck, and altered consciousness.
Until recently, antibiotic treatment was the only means to control the disease. Today, however, vaccines offer protection against the major causes of bacterial meningitis: Streptococcus pneumoniae (Sp or pneumococcus), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and Neisseria meningitides (Nm or meningococcus).
In 2006, Burkina Faso introduced a pentavalent diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus-hepatitis B-Hib vaccine into its national immunization program. In this context, AMP led a study in the Hauts-Bassin region to:
- Evaluate the impact of the vaccine in reducing the incidence of Hib disease, including Hib meningitis
- Determine the incidence, characteristics, and lethality of bacterial meningitis caused by Sp, Hib, and Nm
- Assess therapeutic case management
The study revealed the following:
- Appearance and disappearance of serogroup W135 meningococcal disease over several epidemic seasons
- Clonal waves of serogroup A meningococci
- High-incidence and case-fatality ratio for pneumococcal meningitis, which is present in all ages and seasons
- Decreased incidence of Hib disease following vaccine introduction