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This year, a total of 11 899 cases of meningococcal disease (1368 deaths) have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from Burkina Faso (as of 28 April 2002). The epidemic, now on the decline, began in January and has subsequently affected over half the country (1,2). An epidemic of this scale is not in itself unusual in this part of Africa; the major global burden of meningococcal disease is associated with frequent large scale and irregular dry season epidemics in the Sahelian ’meningitis belt,’ causing high morbidity and mortality often in two or three successive years.


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