The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Health Alert


Meningococcal disease in Niger

Updated June 1, 2015

Travel Health Notice

Niger’s Ministry of Public Health is reporting a rapidly growing outbreak of meningoccocal disease caused by serogroup C. Countries located in Africa’s meningitis beltExternal link, including Niger, generally experience outbreaks of meningococcal disease between December and June. Most outbreaks are caused by serogroup A. This outbreak is the first large scale meningococcal outbreak caused by serogroup C to hit any country located in Africa’s meningitis belt. There have also been cases of meningococcal disease caused by serogroup C reported in Nigeria this year.

Meningococcal diseaseExternal link is an infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. The five major meningococcal serogroups associated with this disease are A, B, C, Y, and W-135. This bacterium can cause serious and sometimes fatal diseases including meningitis (infection of the brain lining) and meningococcal septicemia (infection of the blood).

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends vaccination against meningococcal disease (commonly called meningitis) when travelling to Niger or any other country in Africa’s meningitis beltExternal link.

For more information on travel to Niger, consult the Government of Canada’s advice and advisories for NigerExternal link.


Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

  1. Get the quadrivalent meningoccal vaccine (serogroups A,C,Y, W-135)
    • Routine meningococcal vaccine programs in Canada differ by province and territory. Talk to your health care provider to review your immunization history, and make sure you and/or your child receive the recommended vaccinations before leaving.
  2. Protect yourself and others from the spread of germs
    1. Wash your hands frequentlyExternal link
      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands as germs can be spread this way. For example, if you touch a doorknob that has germs on it then touch your mouth, you can get sick.
      • Wash your hands with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds, as often as possible.
      • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. It’s a good idea to always keep some with you when you travel.
    2. Cover your mouth and nose with your arm when you cough or sneeze. If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards.
    3. Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  3. Monitor your health
    • If you develop symptoms of meningococcal diseaseExternal link, see a health care provider immediately:
      • Describe your symptoms to your health care provider before your appointment, so that he/she can arrange to see you without exposing others.
      • Tell your health care provider where you have travelled.
    • If you feel ill upon arrival into Canada, please tell the flight attendant before you land or the border services officer as you exit the flight.