Meningitis Outbreak Torments Nigeria
A deadly meningitis outbreak has hit Nigeria, killing at least 328 people.
According to the country’s Center for Disease Control, the current outbreak of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis, CSM, has spread across the country in 16 states. The affected states included those that fall within the African Meningitis Belt and these are the states of Kano, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Nasarawa, Gomber, Jigawa, FCT, Osun, Taraba, Yobe, Plateau, Cross Rivers and Lagos.
Center for Disease Control reported that 2,524 people were affected across the states, 131 samples confirmed in the laboratory with majority as meningitides type C, and 328 deaths.
The outbreak started in Zamfara State in November, 2016.
The Problem: There Are Not Enough Vaccines
The Center for Disease Control blamed the outbreak on a new strain of the disease called “stereotype C.” Aside from the fact that this kind of disease is deadly, there are not enough vaccines against it which raised some concerns.
Chief Executive Chikwe Ihekweazu said, “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 Organization for the vaccines.”
In response to the health crisis, an emergency response team has been deployed to the five states in the northwest of the country.
Health Agency Issued A public Advisory Note
The country’s Federal Ministry of Health has issued a public advisory note on how to deter the spread of the disease and advised its citizens to remain calm amid the health crisis.
“We advise Nigerians to continue abiding by health advice which will be issued periodically as feed back of the situation will be given to the public,” it stated.
Health officials advised the Nigerian to avoid overcrowding places, sleep in well ventilated places, staying away from the affected people, sharing of utensils must be avoided, proper disposal of respiratory and throat secretions, and strict observance of hand hygiene.
Meningitis is Deadly
Meningitis is not something new in Nigeria. In fact, the outbreaks are common in the dry season in some states due to the low humidity and dusty conditions.
The disease is deadly. WHO says, even when the disease is diagnosed early and adequate treatment begins, 5% to 10% of patients die, typically within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Some common symptoms are high fever, stiff neck, confusion, sensitivity to light, headaches and vomiting.