Meningococcal serogroup W135 in the African meningitis belt: Epidemiology, immunity and vaccines

Judith E. Mueller*, Raymond Borrow, Bradford D. Gessner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


In the sub-Saharan African meningitis belt there is a region of hyperendemic and epidemic meningitis stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia. The public health approaches to meningitis epidemics, including those related to vaccine use, have assumed that Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A will cause the most disease. During 2001 and 2002, the first large-scale epidemics of serogroup W135 meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa were reported from Burkina Faso. The occurrence of N. meningitidis W135 epidemics has led to a host of new issues, including the need for improved laboratory diagnostics for identifying serogroups during epidemics, an affordable supply of serogroup W135-containing polysaccharide vaccine for epidemic control where needed, and re-evaluating the long-term strategy of developing a monovalent A conjugate vaccine for the region. This review summarizes the existing data on N. meningitidis W135 epidemiology, immunology and vaccines as they relate to meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-336
Number of pages18
JournalExpert Review of Vaccines
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Africa
  • Epidemiology
  • Immunity
  • Immunogenicity
  • Meningitis belt
  • Meningococci
  • Neisseria meningitidis
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccine
  • W135 carriage


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