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Global Health
May 21, 2014

Using Climate Conditions to Predict Meningitis Epidemics

JAMA. 2014;311(19):1958. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.5394

Information on wind and dust conditions during the early dry season in sub-Saharan Africa can be used to help predict seasonal epidemics of meningitis in the area, report an international group of researchers (García-Pando CP et al. Environ Health Perspect. doi:10.1289/ehp.1306640 [published online March 17, 2014]).

Although meningitis has several causes, epidemics of the disease usually result from infection with the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. Meningitis epidemics occur seasonally across the Sahel—a semiarid region of Africa that includes Mali, Niger, Chad, and Sudan—with incidence highest in the dry season from November to May, suggesting that environmental conditions play a role in these epidemics.