Niger is Hit with a Meningitis Outbreak April 10, 2015 By Will Sowards Leave a Comment A meningitis outbreak that started in the African country of Niger has just been declared an epidemic by health officials. From Jan. 1 to Mar. 29, 2015, more than 345 cases of meningitis were reported, including at least 45 fatalities from the potentially deadly disease. A report released by the Ministry of Health shows that the capital city of Niamey has been the hardest hit with 119 cases, comprising more than a quarter of reported deaths. However, all regions except the most southeastern areas of the country have been affected by the outbreak. Nearly half of Niger falls in the ‘Meningitis Belt,’ a region designated by the Centers for Disease Control and other organizations as being an area at high risk for outbreaks of meningitis. At least one outbreak every year has caused the deaths of multiple victims in this region. Officials in Niger’s health ministry say there is no reason to be alarmed, and precautionary measures are underway to ensure that further spread of the disease does not occur including the distribution of meningitis vaccine throughout the country. The CDC and World Health Organization are monitoring the situation, but no extra precautions have been put in place for travel to Niger. Image courtesy of The Center for Disease Control. Click here to view the full map. Niger is one of the poorest nations in the world; 63 percent of individuals live below the poverty line, and annual income is estimated to be as low as $415 per person. The location is a popular one for travel by missionaries who hope to help those most in need. If traveling to Niger, the CDC suggests receiving routine vaccinations as well as yellow fever, typhoid, both hepatitisvaccinations, and, of course, meningitis in order to protect against endemic diseases. Malaria medications are also recommended for most travelers especially if traveling to an area with a high mosquito population. For more information on meningitis, see Passport Health’s page on the disease. If you would like to schedule a meningitis vaccination before your trip, please contact a Passport Health Travel Specialist. Have you traveled to the ‘Meningitis Belt’? Were you immunized against the potentially deadly infection? Let us know below, on Facebook or via Twitter.