Meningococcal Disease in Benin
- There is an outbreak of meningococcal disease in northwest Benin.
- All travelers should be vaccinated with the A, C, W, Y meningococcal vaccine before departure.
- Travelers should avoid close contact with anyone who is ill.
What is the current situation?
An outbreak of meningococcal disease has been reported in Banikora District in northwest Benin, on the border with Burkina Faso. Meningococcal disease refers to any illness caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. These illnesses are often severe and can be deadly. They include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections.The bacteria that cause meningococcal disease spread through respiratory secretions such as saliva.
Most cases of meningococcal disease in this outbreak have been caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C. An oubreak of meningococcal disease due to serogroup C is not unexpected in Benin at this time of the year. There is a vaccine available to travelers that can help prevent infection against meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C.
Health officials are reporting that a smaller number of cases in this outbreak have been caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup X. There is no vaccine that prevents infection against meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup X.
What can travelers do to protect themselves?
Before departure, all travelers to Benin aged 2 months or older should be vaccinated against Neisseria meningitidis serogroups A, C, W, and Y. Two meningococcal vaccines are available in the United States that protect against infection from serogroups A, C, W, and Y. Children younger than 2 years of age are recommended to receive 2–4 doses of serogroup A, C, W, Y vaccine before traveling, depending on age. For adults and children 2 years of age and older, just a single dose is needed. Approximately 7–10 days are required after vaccination for the development of protective antibody levels.
Since 2005, most adolescents in the United States receive vaccination against serogroups A, C, W, and Y. Protection from the serogroup A, C, W, Y vaccine only lasts for a few years, however, so people who were vaccinated more than 3–5 years ago (depending on age) are recommended to receive an additional dose before traveling.
Vaccination against Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B (also available in the United States) is not indicated for this outbreak. There is no vaccine for serogroup X.
Close contacts of a person with meningococcal disease should receive antibiotics to keep them from getting sick. Close contacts include people in the same household, roommates, or anyone with direct contact with a patient’s saliva (such as a boyfriend or girlfriend).
- Meningococcal Disease
- Meningococcal Disease in CDC Health Information for International Travelers (the “Yellow Book”)