Africa’s most populous country Nigeria has become the first country in the world to introduce a 5-in-1 vaccine against meningitis, also known as meningitis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Men5CV preparation protects against five so-called serotypes of meningococci at the same time. Meningococci are bacteria and are transmitted to other people through droplets, such as when coughing or sneezing.

The new combination vaccine offers more comprehensive protection than previously used vaccines, which are only effective against one serotype of the pathogen, said WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus. It has the potential to “prevent future outbreaks and save many lives.” The launch in Nigeria brings the world closer to the goal of reversing meningitis by 2030.

The West African country of Nigeria, with a population of 220 million, is located in the so-called meningitis belt of Africa, which includes 26 countries. Last year, the continent experienced a 50 percent increase in reported meningitis cases, according to the WHO. A meningococcal outbreak in Nigeria led to 1,742 suspected cases between October 1st and March 11th, including 101 confirmed cases and 153 deaths. In order to contain the outbreak, a vaccination campaign was initiated in March for a good million people up to the age of 29, the WHO said.

The first symptoms are similar to those of a flu-like infection

The first symptoms of meningitis are similar to those of a flu infection. The disease worsens very quickly – a life-threatening clinical picture can develop within a few hours. Although meningitis can also be caused by other pathogens such as viruses, bacterial meningitis is the most serious and can also lead to sepsis (blood poisoning). Sick people can suffer severe disabilities or die within 24 hours. Small children are mostly affected.

Meningococci can be easily treated with antibiotics, but the first, rather unspecific symptoms such as headache, fever, chills and dizziness must be correctly interpreted, which is often not the case.

The quintuple vaccine is effective against serotypes A, C, W, Y and X, which cause many diseases in Africa. Serogroup B occurs most frequently in meningococcal infections in Germany, followed by C. The Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) has been recommending vaccination for children for C since 2006, and for meningococcal B since the beginning of the year.

World Health Organization press release