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Expert Rev Vaccines. 2006 Jun;5(3):319-36.

Meningococcal serogroup W135 in the African meningitis belt: epidemiology, immunity and vaccines.

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Agence de Médecine Préventive, 25 du Dr Roux, 75724 Paris cedex 15, France.


In the sub-Saharan African meningitis belt there is a region of hyperendemic and epidemic meningitis stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia. The public health approaches to meningitis epidemics, including those related to vaccine use, have assumed that Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A will cause the most disease. During 2001 and 2002, the first large-scale epidemics of serogroup W135 meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa were reported from Burkina Faso. The occurrence of N. meningitidis W135 epidemics has led to a host of new issues, including the need for improved laboratory diagnostics for identifying serogroups during epidemics, an affordable supply of serogroup W135-containing polysaccharide vaccine for epidemic control where needed, and re-evaluating the long-term strategy of developing a monovalent A conjugate vaccine for the region. This review summarizes the existing data on N. meningitidis W135 epidemiology, immunology and vaccines as they relate to meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa.

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