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Liverpool scientists in meningitis research

19 June 2003

Scientists at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine are starting new research to predict when and where epidemics of meningitis will occur in Africa.

The three-year research project , costing nearly £300,000, is being funded Meningitis Research Foundation, a national charity fighting to prevent death and disability resulting from meningitis and septicaemia, the blood poisoning form of the disease.

Over a number of years we have seen meningitis epidemics in Africa causing tens of thousands of lives to be lost. In a recently completed project funded by the Foundation, scientists developed a large scale model which accurately predicted the areas affected by meningitis epidemics in 2000, 2001 and 2002. They have presented their models to the World Health Organisation and discussed the vaccine policy implications of their prediction.

This new grant awarded by the charity will focus on an enhanced detailed model for Ethiopia, which is often ravaged by epidemic meningitis and famine.

Dr Luis Cuevas, who is running the project, said: "We hope that by studying elements such as the area's climate, population, village distribution, health facilities and previous epidemics, we will be able to develop a finely tuned model that will enable prevention of epidemics by targeted vaccine campaigns."

Denise Vaughan, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation said: "We are delighted to be funding this research project which has the potential to predict when and where meningitis epidemics are likely to occur in parts of Africa. This will enable prevention and treatment strategies to be put in place, thereby saving lives."

Further information about the work of Meningitis Research Foundation or about meningitis and septicaemia, can be obtained from the Foundation's Freefone 24 hour helpline - 080 8800 3344.

Read more about this project:

Research archive for the public - An enhanced small-scale model for prediciting meningitis epidemics in Africa

Research archive for the scientific community - Environmental and epidimiological determinants of epidemic meningitis at the local level

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