At least 40 people have died and more than 430 taken ill with highly infectious meningococcal meningitis in Ethiopia over the past five months, the country's health ministry said on Wednesday.
"Since November 4 2004, 40 deaths have been reported out of 433 cases of meningococcal meningitis," said Tiruwork Tafesse, the director of the ministry's health-monitoring unit.
"We still have cases but vaccinations have started and we hope that the disease will be under control within 15 days," she said.
The affected areas include the northern region of Tigre, the eastern region of Afar, the western region of Benshangul-Gumuz and the eastern portion of the southern region of Oromo, the ministry said.
Hardest hit has been Benshangul-Gumuz, where 167 cases have been reported, it said.
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