Is the end in sight for meningitis?

Story highlights

  • Meningitis outbreaks take place each year along Africa's 'Meningitis belt'
  • A vaccine against Meningitis A was introduced in many countries along the belt in 2010
  • Within five years, infections have fallen dramatically and elimination is now in sight

Vital Signs is a monthly program bringing viewers health stories from around the world.

(CNN)Each year, millions are at risk of outbreaks of meningitis that sweep across 26 countries, known as the 'meningitis belt.'

The bacterial disease infected a record 250,000 people -- and caused 25,000 deaths -- during an outbreak in 1996 and numbers have since come in annual waves, with rates of new infections as high 1 in 100 people in some areas.
A second peak of almost 90,000 infections occurred in 2009.
    But now, less than 20 years after the record outbreak,