British health officials have announced the arrival of a new meningitis vaccine that will help prevent epidemics and help doctors fight outbreaks of disease that impacts the brain and spinal cord and is known to be widespread across the sub-Saharan Africa.
The region, which recorded a massive 80,000 cases of meningitis last year and reported more than 4,000 fatalities, saw some relief as the World Health Organization had approved a new vaccine last week that could stop outbreaks even before they began.
Researchers associated with the project claimed that the new vaccine will eventually lead to complete control over the disease. It has been developed in partnership between the WHO, the Serum Institute of India, and PATH, which is an international not-for-profit organization funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The vaccine builds a resistance to type A meningitis, known the world over as the biggest killer of them all. It accounted more than 90 percent of all outbreaks in the African continent. With the WHO verifying the vaccine, other aid agencies can now buy and export it to needy countries.
Meningitis, a contagious disease that spreads via sneezing and coughing, is diagnosed through symptoms like high fever, headaches, vomiting and a stiff neck. The fatality rate is about ten percent even in the case of early diagnosis.