BACKGROUND: An enhanced meningitis surveillance network was established across the meningitis belt of sub-Saharan Africa in 2003 to rapidly collect, disseminate, and use district weekly data on meningitis incidence. Following 10 years' experience with enhanced surveillance that included the introduction of a group A meningococcal conjugate vaccine, PsA-TT (MenAfriVac), in 2010, we analyzed the data on meningitis incidence and case fatality from countries reporting to the network.
METHODS: After de-duplication and reconciliation, data were extracted from the surveillance bulletins and the central database held by the World Health Organization Inter-country Support Team in Burkina Faso for countries reporting consistently from 2004 through 2013 (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Togo).
RESULTS: The 10 study countries reported 341 562 suspected and confirmed cases over the 10-year study period, with a marked peak in 2009 due to a large epidemic of group A Neisseria meningitidis (NmA) meningitis. Case fatality was lowest (5.9%) during this year. A mean of 71 and 67 districts annually crossed the alert and epidemic thresholds, respectively. The incidence rate of NmA meningitis fell >10-fold, from 0.27 per 100 000 in 2004-2010 to 0.02 per 100 000 in 2011-2013 (P < .0001).
CONCLUSIONS: In addition to supporting timely outbreak response, the enhanced meningitis surveillance system provides a global overview of the epidemiology of meningitis in the region, despite limitations in data quality and completeness. This study confirms a dramatic fall in NmA incidence after the introduction of PsA-TT.
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