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Meningitis claims five in Darfur

4/7/2005 4:50pm

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Apr 6, 2005 (PANA) - A meningitis outbreak has in the last ten days claimed five people at a refugee camp in Sudan's strife- torn western region of Darfur, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The UN health agency said it had launched a mass meningitis vaccination campaign at the Saraf Omra camp in the north of Darfur, in collaboration with the Sudanese ministry of Health and several NGOs.

In a statement, WHO said at least 75,000 people between the ages of 2 and 30 will be vaccinated, adding that 100,000 doses of vaccine arrived in Saraf Omra last Thursday on a WFP helicopter.

Seventy-one people at the camp have already been infected with the infectious illness, an infection of the meninges membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord like a sheath.

The vaccination campaign will take eight days and priority will be given to more populated areas, WHO indicated.

When the first suspected cases of meningococcal disease were reported last mid March in Saraf Omra, the Federal Ministry of Health in Sudan requested 161,000 doses of trivalent vaccine from the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision for Epidemic Meningitis Control.

The vaccine is expected to arrive this week.

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