RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Epidemiology of bacterial meningitis in Niamey, Niger, 1981-96.

In the African meningitis belt the importance of endemic meningitis is not as well recognized as that of epidemics of meningococcal meningitis that occur from time to time. Using retrospective surveillance, we identified a total of 7078 cases of laboratory-diagnosed bacterial meningitis in Niamey, Niger, from 1981 to 1996. The majority (57.7%) were caused by Neisseria meningitidis, followed by Streptococcus pneumoniae (13.2%) and Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib) (9.5%). The mean annual incidence of bacterial meningitis was 101 per 100,000 population (70 per 100,000 during 11 non-epidemic years) and the average annual mortality rate was 17 deaths per 100,000. Over a 7-year period (including one major epidemic year) for which data were available, S. pneumoniae and Hib together caused more meningitis deaths than N. meningitidis. Meningitis cases were more common among males and occurred mostly during the dry season. Serogroup A caused 85.6% of meningococcal meningitis cases during the period investigated; three-quarters of these occurred among children aged < 15 years, and over 40% among under-5-year-olds. Both incidence and mortality rates were highest among infants aged < 1 year. In this age group, Hib was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis, followed by S. pneumoniae. The predominant cause of meningitis in persons aged 1-40 years was N. meningitidis. Use of the available vaccines against meningitis due to N. meningitidis, S. pneumoniae, and Hib could prevent substantial endemic illness and deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, and potentially prevent recurrent meningococcal epidemics.

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