Meningococcus (Neisseria meningitidis) has 13 known serotypes with groups A, B, and C being the most common causes of disease worldwide. Meningococcal A epidemics kill several thousand people each year in the African meningitis belt, mainly affecting infants and young children. Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics; however, even with adequate antibiotic treatment, at least 10 percent of patients die within 48 hours of onset of symptoms, while a further 10 to 20 percent of survivors develop severe disabilities. Existing multivalent vaccines are expensive and, while effective against the serotypes included, do not cover all the disease causing strains in the developing world.

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Key resources

Meningococcal Vaccines: Current Issues and Future Strategies (2013)
An article that provides an overview of the history and current state of meningococcal vaccines.

Emergence of Serogroup X Meningococcal Disease in Africa: Need for a Vaccine (2013)
An article that describes how and why serogroup X meningococcal disease has emerged in Africa in recent years and asserts that vaccine-based prevention of this serogroup may become a public health need.

Featured PATH resources

Delivering MenAfriVac Using the Controlled Temperature Chain Approach (2013)
A set of images taken during an immunization campaign where more than 155,000 people were vaccinated with the MenAfriVac meningitis vaccine using the controlled temperature chain approach.

Meningitis Vaccine Project
A website that includes information about the project, meningitis, and vaccines against the disease.

Page last updated: October 2013.