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Eight million threatened by meningitis epidemic in Ethiopia 8 March 2001 With some 8.4 million people threatened with a deadly epidemic of meningococcal meningitis - the Ethiopian Red Cross has mobilized thousands of volunteers to begin a major social mobilization campaign on the disease, and to make sure those at risk are vaccinated. "There is serious cause for alarm about the spread of this epidemic. While to date there have been 1,700 cases reported and 140 deaths confirmed, this is probably a serious underestimate of the reality on the ground. Ethiopian Ministry of Health figures that 8.4 million people could be at risk are very realistic. It is vital that we act now," said Dr. Bradley Hersh, a senior medical epidemiologist with the International Federation. The group most at risk is between the age of two and thirty years old.