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Meningitis in Liberia

12 May 2017

On the 10 May 2017 WHO reported it had been informed by Liberia’s MOH of 31 cases including 13 deaths of unknown aetiology in Sinoe County. Samples from four of the deceased patients had tested positive for meningitis C (Neisseria menigitidis).

An investigation is still ongoing to determine if this bacteria is responsible for other reported illnesses in this cluster.

Advice for Travellers

Spread through airborne droplets and direct contact with nasal/pharyngeal secretions of infected individuals or carriers. Meningococcal disease is found worldwide but epidemics may occur in this country, which lies within the extended meningitis belt of Africa, particularly during the dry season. Respiratory infections are often difficult to prevent but following basic personal hygiene etiquette when coughing and sneezing can help. Avoiding overcrowded areas such as busy markets and local transport may also reduce risk of exposure but may not always be practical.

Vaccines to protect against multiple strains of meningococcal meningitis for travellers are available: Menveo and Nimenrix. Individuals should consider being vaccinated if they are travelling to a country where meningococcal meningitis is present and where their stay maybe prolonged or they are involved in activities which may increase the risk of exposure to the disease, for example, working in a healthcare setting and living closely with the local population.