The death toll in a meningitis epidemic that broke out in January in Niger has reached 129, according to the country’s health minister.
Mano Aghali said in a statement broadcast on public radio that there were a total of 1,150 cases and 129 deaths by April 22.
The government’s previous toll was 85 deaths and 908 cases, but the health ministry said cases were multiplying fast.
The government has shut all schools in the region around the capital, Niamey, and begun a campaign to vaccinate children aged 2 to 15 in an effort to halt the outbreak.
Schools will remain closed until next week with the vaccination effort having kicked off.
Meningococcal meningitis can cause severe brain damage, deafness or epilepsy and, if untreated, is fatal in half of cases.