More than 500 people have died from meningitis and measles in Burkina Faso since the start of the year, health authorities in the west African country said Thursday.
"From January first to April 5 the health districts have reported a total number of suspected meningitis case of 2,928, including 389 deaths," Ousmane Badolo, an epidemic specialist at the health ministry told AFP.
The numbers are sharply lower than last year, however, when the country registered 7,194 suspected meningitis cases including 714 deaths during the same period.
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.
For the past few years Burkina Faso has been the worst affected country on the sub-Saharan "meningitis belt" that stretches from Senegal on the Atlantic coast to Ethiopia in the east.
Badolo also warned that measles cases were on the rise in this landlocked country, which is one of the world's poorest.
Health authorities have registered 19,651 suspected measles cases since January, with 150 deaths.
Like meningitis, measles is also highly infectious.
Easily treated in developed nations, it can be dangerous and sometimes fatal in poor countries.