A meningitis epidemic that killed more than 500 people since January in Burkina Faso is over, a health ministry official said on Tuesday, but the government was rushing to contain a measles outbreak.
"I can tell you that the meningitis epidemic is over," said the director of the ministerial department fighting the cerebro-spinal disease in the west African country, Dr Sylvestre Kiendrebeogo.
Between the start of January and June 7, 504 people died out of 3,972 cases reported. Kiendrebeogo said that "no health districts in the country has been on alert or in epidemic status for about three weeks."
He attributed the end of the epidemic to the arrival of the rainy season, because the meningococcal bacteria that cause the disease spread more readily in the dry heat.
Burkina Faso lies on an African "meningitis belt" that stretches from Mauritania in the west to Ethiopia in the east.
Health Minister Seydou Bouda separately announced a vaccination campaign in 31 districts at high risk of a measles epidemic that has killed 281 people since February and infected 42,306 others. The capital is one of the high-risk zones.
The aim is to get vaccines to 3.6 million children under 15 in an operation that will cost about 1.79 million euros (2.5 million dollars). Vaccinations were announced in April but the five-day campaign has yet to start on Wednesday.