Meningitis is not something which only affects people here in Britain, like many diseases anyone can get it, no matter where in the world they are.

Meningitis kills or disables 1.2 million people globally each year. Bacterial meningitis is responsible for 120,000 of these deaths, as the most common and severe form of the disease.

Outbreaks of bacterial meningitis varies depending on geographical location, occurring as sporadic cases in some areas, while in others it manifests as large epidemics.

There are many different strands of bacterial meningitis, all of which affect different parts of the world.  These are: A, B, C, W-135, Y and X.

Map showing meningitis strands around the world
World map showing the different strands of meningitis around the world. The red band represents the African Meningitis Belt.

Outside Europe for example, MenW cases tend to be more prevalent, with outbreaks being recorded in Africa and South America.

Some large epidemics can also be put down to world events, such as the Hajj pilgrimage of 2000-2002. Countries all around the world, including the UK, saw spikes in the number of cases during this time. This could be down to pilgrims returning home, therefore resulting in the disease spreading through close contact.

The ACWY vaccine is highly recommended to anyone travelling to high risk areas because of this. Saudi Arabia have made it compulsory to have this vaccine before entering their country during the Hajj season.

Cases tend to be more common in developing countries due to poverty, poor sanitation, overcrowding and a lack of access to vaccinations.

But ultimately anyone, anywhere in the world, could be at risk of contracting meningitis. Getting vaccinated could save your life, no matter where you are.


Featured image credit: Ali Mansuri