It has been reported that at least 140 people have died as a result of an outbreak of meningitis in several parts of Nigeria. This report was released over the last week in six states and has so far infected more than 1,000 people, according to the Abuja Centre for Disease Control. This present outbreak is the worst in Nigeria since 2009 when it killed at least 156 people.
Meningitis is the acute inflammation of the protective layers of the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. The most common symptoms of meningitis include – sudden fever, headache and neck stiffness. It is caused by infections which could be bacterial, viral and other risk factors. This disease can be life threatening due to proximity of the inflammation to the brain and spinal. It can also lead to serious long-term consequences such as deafness, epilepsy, or cognitive deficits if it is not treated fast. Although significant exposure to some types of meningitis can be treated with antibiotics, vaccination is still an effective way of preventing against meningitis.
“However, a new strain, which may have been imported from a neighbouring country is now prevalent in Nigeria and requires a different type of vaccine,” said Isaac Adewole, Nigerian Minister of Health.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), according to a publication on its website on “Meningococcal disease – Nigeria: Disease outbreak news” stated that a case fatality rate of 15 per cent has been reported from 40 local government areas (LGAs) in five states of Nigeria since December 2016, with Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto account for 89 per cent of these cases.
“Prior to the beginning of the dry season, we prepositioned medical supplies including drugs and personal protective equipment to all 36 states of the country including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),” said the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu.
Nigeria is located in the meningitis belt of sub-Saharan Africa, which extends from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east and has the highest rates of the disease. The WHO alongside other partners including National Primary health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), UNICEF, Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme, eHealth Africa, Médecins Sans Frontières, Rotary International, and Nigeria Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) are providing support to this outbreak.
To prevent this deadly scourge, it is important to avoid contact with the victims especially their respiratory or throat secretions such as saliva, nasal mucus either through kissing or sharing of personal items. Also boost your immune system by taking supplements like Vitamins A, C, E, D which help in decreasing the possibility of inflammation around the brain and spinal. Most of all, get vaccinated, as this is still the most popular way of preventing this disease.