On-Going Meningococcal Meningitis Outbreak in Niger

U.S. Embassy Niamey, Niger

Security Message for U.S. Citizens

Meningitis Outbreak 

April 23, 2015

The U.S. Embassy informs U.S. citizens that schools in Niamey are closed because of an on-going meningococcal meningitis outbreak in Niger, concentrated in the areas of Niamey and Dosso.  Since January, Niger has reported more than 1034 cases and at least 110 deaths; this number is expected to increase.  The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens residing and traveling in Niger check their vaccination record to ensure they have been vaccinated against meningitis within the past five years.  All U.S. government employees and their dependents are required to get vaccinated against meningitis before traveling to Niger, as Niger is subject to recurring outbreaks of the disease.

If you have not yet been vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis, or have not been vaccinated in the last five years, the U.S. Embassy recommends you contact your doctor to schedule an innoculation.  Due to high demand, the vaccine may be difficult to locate on the local market.  Please note the local vaccine supply has been inconsistent and the quality controls on the vaccines sold by local pharmacies cannot be guaranteed.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine (covering strains A, C, W and Y, also known as serogroups) to ensure it is targeting the correct strain of meningitis (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/meningococcal-disease).

Some information on meningococcal meningitis is included below.  Please consult a health care professional if you have specific questions.

 What is meningococcal meningitis?

Meningococcal meningitis is an inflammation of the delicate membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.  Meningococcal meningitis is potentially fatal and should always be viewed as a medical emergency. As many as 10-15% of cases lead to death, sometimes within 24 hours, and a significant number of those who contract the infection have serious complications.

How is it transmitted?

It is transmitted from person-to-person through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions. Close contact—such as kissing, sneezing or coughing on someone, or living in close quarters with an infected person—facilitates the spread of the disease. Droplet spread generally takes place at a range of three feet or less, and prolonged contact generally is required for infection to occur.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms are a stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, severe headache, and vomiting. Rash may also occur. The symptoms usually develop within three to seven days of infection. Antibiotic treatment is effective, but it must be given without delay once meningococcal meningitis is suspected.

What if I start to feel symptoms?

If you suspect that you or someone you know has meningococcal meningitis, seek medical care right away. Early, aggressive treatment can prevent serious complications and death.


CDC recommends that travelers to areas with high endemic rates of meningococcal meningitis get the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine before travel. It takes approximately 7-10 days after receiving the vaccine before a person can develop protection against the disease. The vaccine selected should ideally be a quadrivalent conjugate vaccine, or alternative vaccine with protection against serogroups A, C and W. Preventive oral antibiotic therapy for close contacts of confirmed cases is available and effective for prevention of secondary cases when initiated within 24 hours.

For more information please see these websites:



We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Niger enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at travel.state.gov.  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings (including the Travel Warning for Niger), Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Niger and the Travel Warning for Niger.  For additional information, refer to the “Traveler’s Checklist” on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy in Niamey is located on the Rue des Ambassades and is open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Telephone number +227-20-72-26-61. If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the after-hours emergency number for the U.S. Embassy is +227-99-49-90-66.