Cablegate: Meningitis Outbreak Reported in Kisangani,
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1165 3651119
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 311119Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0528
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
UNCLAS KINSHASA 001165
HHS PLS PASS CDC ATLANTA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID SENV SOCI TBIO MASS CG
SUBJECT: MENINGITIS OUTBREAK REPORTED IN KISANGANI,
ORIENTALE PROVINCE, DR CONGO
1. This report was prepared by the Office of Centers for Disease
Control (CDC) of Amembassy Kinshasa and has been cleared by the
Embassy's Front Office.
2. In late November Kisangani, the capital city of the Oriental
Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was hit by a
meningitis epidemic. Laboratory tests performed at the National
Institute of Biomedical Research in Kinshasa (capital of the DRC)
identified Meningococcus type C as the cause of this outbreak. In
one month at least 200 cases (including 45 deaths) have been
reprted as a result of this epidemic.
3. Meningiis is an inflammation of the protective membrane
covering the brain and spinal cord, and is most often caused by a
bacterial or viral infection. Several bacteria are responsible for
meningitis: Pneumococcus, Hemophilus Influenzae, and the most
frequent -- Meningococcus (Naisseria meningitides).
4. The bacteria can be spread from person to person through the
exchange of respiratory and throat secretions. Meningitis strikes
most frequently the sub-Saharan region. There is a well known area
called the "belt of meningitis," extending from Senegal in the West
to Ethiopia in the East.
The DRC is, unfortunately, in the middle of this "belt."
5. During the dry season (June to November), this disease
periodically affects hundreds of people. There are several safe
vaccines, most of which have been available for more than 30 years,
which are highly effective in preventing meningitis.
6. The medical team responding to this outbreak consists of a
provincial health office and a Non-Governmental Organization:
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
7. Presently, the number of cases is declining and the outbreak
appears to be under control. However, there are some reports of new
cases northeast of the epicenter, which the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa
is closely monitoring. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) based in the DRC is in contact with the Congolese Ministry of
Health and has assured the Ministry that technical assistance will
be provided if the epidemic continues. In the meantime, CDC
recommends that the vaccine for Meningitis be made available to all
Americans traveling or operating in the area of the outbreak.