A meningitis outbreak is ongoing in Banikoara (Alibori Department) as of mid-December 2019. According to Benin's Health Ministry, 77 cases have been recorded, resulting in the death of 13 people. Further spread of the infection cannot be ruled out.
Meningitis is hyperendemic to the "meningitis belt" of Africa's Sahel region, which stretches from Senegal to Ethiopia, and is an annual concern in the region as periodic outbreaks occur during the dry season between October and April.
Symptoms of meningitis, a contagious bacterial disease that can cause infections in the lining of the brain and/or in the blood, include fever, headache, a stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, joint and muscle pains, and a rash. Without appropriate medical treatment, the disease is fatal in approximately 50 percent of cases. A vaccine is available.
Individuals present in Benin are advised to take the necessary measures to protect themselves from the disease (wash hands and disinfect all surfaces frequently), avoid all contact with infected individuals, and make sure appropriate immunizations are up to date before traveling to the country. Individuals developing symptoms of the disease should seek immediate medical attention.