From Senegal to Ethiopia, a wave of devastating illness sweeps across the 26 countries of Africa’s “Meningitis Belt” every 5 to 14 years. Meningitis is one of the most feared diseases in Africa. The infection, which makes the protective membranes around the brain and neck painfully swell, is difficult to diagnose and swift to kill. Common symptoms such as fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be missed or altogether absent. One could go to sleep healthy and never wake up. When untreated, meningitis fatality rates can soar to more than 80 percent and, and even with treatment, 5 to 10 percent of infected individuals die, often within hours of symptom onset.