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by Enric Terradellas last modified Jan 19, 2017 03:01 PM


Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis, a serious infection of the meninges that affects the brain membrane. It commonly causes epidemics with high fatality rates. The largest epidemics occur in the arid areas of sub-Saharan Africa: the so-called African meningitis belt, which stretches from Senegal to Ethiopia. They occur in seasonal cycles between end of November and end of June, depending on the location, and decline rapidly with the arrival of the rainy season. The yearly average incidence is about 40,000-50,000 cases with a 10% of deaths and a 10-20% of affected by permanent neurological sequelae.

It is believed that low absolute humidity and presence of dust may enhance meningococcal invasion, either by damaging the mucosal barrier and allowing bacterial penetration, or by inhibiting mucosal immune defences. A controversial hypothesis suggests that dust particles might serve as bacterial carriers, thus facilitating the transmission.


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