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Meningitis epidemic kills 443 in Niger

NIAMEY, May 25 (Xinhua) -- A wave of Meningitis epidemic spreading in Niger since January has so far killed 443 people out of 6,609 reported cases, Niger's Health Minister Mano Aghali said over the weekend while releasing the latest death toll.

Out of the country's eight regions, five, especially Niamey, Dosso, Tillaberi, Tahoua and Maradi are the most affected by the epidemic, the minister said.

The age bracket of those most affected by the disease is between 2 to 15 years. The capital Niamey is the most affected with over 200 cases being reported daily at the height of the epidemic.

Health authorities said the epidemic spread faster due to the shortage of vaccines in the country as well as on the international market.

"Today, thanks to taking good care of patients, launch of vaccination campaigns, support from our partners and all the efforts deployed by the state in terms of sensitization, we can say the situation is under control," Aghali said.

Meningitis is a highly infectious disease whose mode of transmission is mainly through close proximity to affected persons.

Avoidance of getting into close contact as well as washing of hands can help to prevent transmission of the disease in which the outer part of the brain is swollen.

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