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The 'meningitis belt' of tropical Africa is the zone lying between 5В° and 15В° N of the Equator, and characterised by an annual rainfall between 30 and 110 cm. The disease however is not limited to Africa. Overcrowding enhances the risk of acquiring the infection. Nearly 3000 people died from meningitis in two Brazilian cities in 1974. Effective vaccines against types A and C are now available.
Distribution of meningococcal meningitis.
Photo 1. Rash of meningococcal meningitis. The rash consists typically of irregular, scattered petechiae.
Photo 2. Smear of cerebrospinal fluid. Neisseria meningitidis is a gram-negative, beanshaped diplococcal organism. In the 'meningitis belt' of Africa, type A is the causative agent of epidemics. (x 900)
Photo 3. Latex agglunation test. This sensitive serological test is valuable for the differentiation of meningococcal from pneumococcal and other types of meningitis. (A - meningococcus antigen; B - pneumococcus antigen; C - Haemophilus influenzae antigen; D - negative control)
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