Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Meningitis Outbreak In Nigeria: Advice to The Public

Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.  This inflammation can be caused by bacterial, viral, fungal or/and other parasitic infections. It could also occur as a result of reaction to drugs.

Symptoms of meningitis vary depending on the causative agent and severity of disease. However, common symptoms include
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Stiffness of the neck
  • Intolerance to light and noise
  • Irritability and confusion
  • Altered conciousness
  • Skin rash (seen in a type of meningitis)
Nigeria is currently experiencing an outbreak of cerebrospinal meningistis that has spread across the country affecting states in the upper parts of the country which fall within the African meningitis belt. Other countries facing similar outbreaks at the moment include the following west african countries; Niger, Chad, Cameroun, Togo and Burkina Faso.

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, this current outbreak is not the first or the worst ever faced by Nigeria, but this round of epidemic comes with a difference in the strain of organism causing this outbreak. Previous outbreaks where caused by the bacteria Neisseria Meningitides type 'A' but this year Nigeria is recording the Neisseria Meningitides type 'C' in epidemic proportions.

Current Epidemic Situation ( As at 31st of March 2017) 

The Federal ministry of health reports that ninety local governments in sixteen states of the federation has so far been affected. These states include Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Nasarawa, Jigawa, FCT (Abuja), Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Kano, Osun, Cross River, Lagos, and Plateau.

Total number of people affected across these states is 2524 with 328 deaths. Current outbreak started in Zamfara state in November 2016.

General Public Advice

To help prevent spread of disease and reduce mortality rates the federal ministry of health provides the following advice and tips
  1. Avoid staying in overcrowded environments
  2. Sleep in well ventilated places.
  3. Avoid close and prolonged contact with a person with confirmed case of meningitis
  4. Reduce frequency of hand shaking, kissing, sharing utensils and even medical interventions such as mouth to mouth resuscitation as the bacteria causing meningitis are easily spread and contracted through such close contact.
  5. Practise strict hand hygiene. Wash your hands often.
  6. Avoid self medication in seemingly simple cases of headaches and fever. 
  7. Get vaccinated with the relevant sero-type of the meningococcal vaccine 

Credit: Federal Ministry Of Health

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