Epidemiology and Infection

Epidemiology of meningococcal meningitis in Angola, 1994–2000

M.  GASPAR  a1, F.  LEITE  a2, L.  BRUMANA  a3, B.  FÉLIX  a4 and A. A.  STELLA  a5 c1
a1 Health Directorate, National Angolan Army, Angola
a2 National Institute of Public Health, Angola
a3 UNICEF, Angola
a4 WHO, Angola
a5 Interuniversity Center of Research in Developing Countries (CIRPS) – Italian co-operation (insp@ebonet.net)


We describe six meningococcal disease outbreaks that occurred in Angola during the period 1994–2000. In total, 7140 cases were documented. The age groups most affected were 15–29 years and 5–14 years; there were no differences in incidence between the sexes. Circulation of both serogroup A and sporadic serogroup B strains was demonstrated. Mass vaccination campaigns with A+C meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine were implemented, except in Yambala province in 1999 where insecure conditions precluded this intervention.

Outbreaks of serogroup A meningococcal disease in Angola may indicate an extension of these epidemics outside the meningitis belt. Mass vaccination campaigns stopped the Angolan epidemics within weeks. Civil conflict and displaced persons living in crowded areas created serious difficulties for surveillance and impeded timely public health responses.

(Accepted July 28 2001)

c1 Author for correspondence: CIRPS (Italian Co-operation), c/o Italian Embassy, Rua dos Enganos, P.O. Box 6220, Luanda, Angola.