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ASTANA -- A meningitis outbreak has killed 13 people in Kazakhstan's southern regions in recent months, the Central Asian country's Health Ministry says.

A total of 59 people, including 21 children under the age of 14, had been diagnosed with meningitis in the Almaty, Qyzylorda, and South Kazakhstan regions, the ministry said on June 6.

The most recent death was recorded on June 5, when a 17-year-old boy in the southeastern city of Taldyqorghan died of the disease.

The ministry said it was in control of the situation.

Meningitis is a serious disease caused by inflammation and irritation of the meninges, the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. One of its most dangerous forms, known as meningococcal meningitis, is caused by bacteria invading the cerebrospinal fluid, circulating through the central nervous system.

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