Meningitis Kills More Than 1,000 in Burkina Faso

April 13, 2002 - 0:0
OUAGADOUGOU -- A meningitis epidemic has killed more than 1,000 people this year in the impoverished west African country of Burkina Faso, Reuters quoted the Health Ministry as saying.

Many of the 8,446 reported cases were caused by the W-135 variant, thought to have been brought from Saudi Arabia. Most of the available vaccines target other forms, which are usually more widespread in Burkina Faso.

The Health Ministry said late on Thursday meningitis had killed 1,059 people since January, 246 of them in the past week.

Burkina Faso is in the heart of an arid region dubbed the "Meningitis Belt", stretching across the continent near the southern fringes of the Sahara Desert.

Severe outbreaks usually strike in the hot and dusty early months of the year ahead of the rainy season.

Sufferers are hit by intense headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting and a stiff neck. They become lethargic and can lapse into a coma or have convulsions.