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Biological diagnosis of meningococcal meningitis in the African meningitis belt: current epidemic strategy and new perspectives.Laboratory diagnosis is an essential component in surveillance of meningococcal epidemics, as it can inform decision-makers of the Neisseria meningitidis serogroup(s) involved and the most appropriate vaccine to be selected for mass vaccination. However, countries most affected face real limitations in laboratory diagnostics, due to lack of resources. We describe current diagnostic tools and examine their cost-effectiveness for use in an epidemic context. The conclusion is that current WHO recommendations to use only the latex agglutination assay (Pastorex) at epidemic onset is cost-effective, but recently developed rapid diagnostic tests for the major epidemic-causing meningococcal serogroups may prove a breakthrough for the future.