A meningitis epidemic has killed more than 800 people in Burkina Faso since the start of the year and has now reached the capital, the health ministry said on Wednesday.
"Between January 1 and April 20, we have counted a total of 8,382 suspected cases of meningitis, including 811 deceased, which is a mortality rate of 9.67 percent," ministry epidemiologist Ousmane Badolo told AFP.
AdvertisementThe previous official toll, given three weeks ago on March 30, had 650 deceased out of 6,594 cases.
The Sig-Noghin area in the north of the Burkina capital -- which up until two weeks ago had been spared from the meningitis epidemic -- and Boulmiougou in western Ouagadougou were now affected, said Badolo.
A total of 300,000 vaccinations had been sent or would be sent to affected areas around the country, the doctor said.
The outbreak is centred along the border with Ivory Coast, where 44 deaths had been reported by February 20, a day before the two countries announced a joint health programme to tackle the epidemic.
Both countries are on a sub-Saharan "meningitis belt" that stretches from Senegal on the Atlantic coast to Ethiopia in the east. Burkina Faso has been worst affected, as it was last year.
Meningitis is very contagious and initial symptoms include a quickly rising temperature, violent headaches, vomiting and neck stiffness. It is declared an epidemic when there are at least 10 cases per 100,000 people.
In 2007, the United Nations said three-quarters of the more than 2,000 deaths from meningitis in nine countries were in Burkina Faso.