After wreaking havoc in Nigeria, spinal meningitis has spread to a dozen other countries close to the Sahara, from Mali and Burkina Faso in the west to Sudan in the east. According to the World Health Organization, at least 6,000 people have died in recent weeks and more than 300 million Africans are at risk. Most of the victims are children under 15. Nigeria has borne the brunt of the epidemic, with the disease claiming.the lives of 100 children a day. Mass vaccinations carried out in the northern state of Kano where the outbreak is believed to have bro ken out, has had little effect. The toll has risen to above 4,000 in the country since January. However, the actual death toll may be higher than the official figures because of poor data collection and lack of information about what is happening in isolated villages. Experts predicted that the epidemic will claim more lives until it stops naturally when the rains come.