What You Should Know About Meningitis As Nigeria Records 282 Deaths Related To The Disease
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Thursday confirmed the outbreak of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM), in five states with at least 282 deaths related to the disease.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Abuja, Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Chief Executive Officer of the centre, said that 1,966 suspected cases have been recorded while 109 have been confirmed and being treated since the outbreak of the disease in February in the country.
The CEO said that the centre had deployed a response team to the affected states to vaccinate the residents and control further spread of CSM.
Ihekweazu added that Zamfara has the highest number of confirmed cases of 44, followed by Katsina with 32, Sokoto 19, Kebbi 10 and Niger 4 confirmed cases.
He also said that there is an inter-agency response supporting the states to contain the outbreak through the primary mode of vaccination.
However, Mr. Ihekweazu explained that a new strand of meningitis called “stereotype C” has emerged in place of the previous known type “stereotype A”, which has disappeared.
He regretted that there was not yet commercially available vaccine for this new stereotype “C” meningitis.
His words: “There is a vaccine available but it is not commercially available for the stereotype involved in this specific outbreak and we have to make application to the World Health Organisation for the vaccines.
“Thankfully the vaccines have arrived and we have started vaccination campaign in Zamfara. We are in the process of starting in Sokoto and Kebbi states.
“We continue to advocate for scientists and for the global community to really try and push to develop a vaccine for meningitis `C’, on the other hand all we can do is prevention.”
Ihekweazu said that prevention and early detection was key to combating the disease, if detected early, it could be treated with antibiotics.
“Meningitis is a tough disease especially during this period and it is associated with over-crowding, understanding the living conditions in the country, people must keep their building ventilated,” he said.
He urged Nigerians to avoid sleeping in overcrowded condition and if a lot of people must sleep together in the same room, the windows and doors must be open to allow enough ventilation.
Meningitis symptoms can include fever, cold hands and feet, refusing food, vomiting. being fretful or drowsy, rapid breathing or grunting, pale or blotchy skin but there are others too.
Meanwhile, Haruna Agwai, the Primary Health Care Coordinator of Kuje Area Council, said inadequate vaccines is hindering the progress of work at the ongoing immunisation of children against meningitis and polio in the area.
Mr. Agwai told NAN in Kuje during the immunisation of children at the Primary Health Care Centre in the area that:
“Inadequate vaccines, weather condition, inadequate funding, difficult terrain, vehicles and manpower are slowing down the process of immunisation in the area.’’
He said that in spite the hindrance, “the health workers are vaccinating children on Oral Polio Vaccines (OPV) from the ages 0 to 59 months and meningitis from 1 to 29 years.’’
The coordinator said the essence of the current exercise was to immunise children against the recent outbreak of meningitis in some parts of the country.
Some common signs and symptoms of meningitis in babies and toddlers include:
- Fever, cold hands and feet
- Refusing food and vomiting
- Fretful, dislike being handled
- Drowsy, floppy, unresponsive
- Rapid breathing or grunting
- Pale, blotchy skin. Spots or a rash
- Unusual cry, moaning
- Tense, bulging fontanelle – the soft spot on top of a baby’s head
- Stiff neck, dislike bright lights
In adults and young children these symptoms can also include:
- Confusion and irritability
- Severe muscle pain
- Severe headache
Meningitis can be divided into two main types; viral and bacterial meningitis
- Viral meningitis is reasonably common, but rarely fatal
- Bacterial forms are comparatively rare, but extremely dangerous and can be fatal
- The most common bacterial cause in the UK is the meningococcus. This can cause both meningitis and septicaemia (meningococcal disease)
- Other forms of bacterial meningitis include pneumococcal, Hib, neonatal (caused by E. coli and group B streptococcus) and TB
How do I get meningitis?
- Someone can get meningitis when the bacteria or viruses invades the body. Different bacteria and viruses can be spread in different ways.
- Some are carried in the back of the throat and are spread by coughing, sneezing and intimate kissing (close prolonged contact)
- The bacteria that cause meningitis are common. At anyone on time, 1 in 10 adults will be carrying them harmlessly at the back of their throat. We do not fully understand why some people develop meningitis from this, when for the majority of people do not.
- Some viruses are passed from person to person through the faecal oral route (going to the toilet and not washing hands) or though coughing and sneezing. In most people viruses will cause a more common infection e.g. cold, sore throat or tummy upset. Again, it is not fully understood why instead of getting an everyday infection, some people go on to develop viral meningitis.
Is meningitis contagious?
- Yes, but is not highly infectious and some types are not infectious at all e.g. viral.
- Meningococcal meningitis (most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK) is contagious. However, most cases happen in isolation (with no other case connected). Only those people who have had prolonged close contact with someone who has developed meningitis may have a slight increase chance of developing the disease themselves. Usually this means those living and sleeping in the same house or intimate kissing partners.
Source: NAN/Mirror UK