Meningitis: What Nigerians should look out for – Medical Experts

Meningitis vaccination used to illustrate the story [Photo Credit: communit.com]
Meningitis vaccination used to illustrate the story [Photo Credit: communit.com]

Some medical experts have advised Nigerians to seek early attention when ill especially if they are suspicious of meningitis because the disease is curable if presented early.

The meningitis outbreak across several states has caused the death of over 282 people in the past two months.

Adefunke Babatola, a paediatrician, told PREMIUM TIMES that parents should take their children early to hospitals for diagnosis because the treatment is more successful if detected early.

She said symptoms to look out for in children include high body temperature, irritability, excessive crying, headaches for those old enough to know what they are experiencing, photophobia (not able to look at lights) convulsion and falling into coma, which she said is common in children.

“Some predisposing factors are upper respiratory problems, abnormal posturing, aching at the back, stiffness of the neck, poor feeding, bulge in the soft spot on top of a baby’s head (fontanel) and stiffness in a baby’s body and neck, among others.

“The diagnosis is not too difficult but care needs to be taken because it sometimes exhibits symptoms similar to cerebral malaria,” she added.

Also, Adeseye Akintunde, a consultant physician cardiologist at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology said there is a slim chance of meningitis spreading to the south-western part of the country because of what is referred to as the meningitis belt.

“Meningitis is common in the north because of the weather,” he said. “There is what is called a meningitis belt and the disease rarely spreads further than the belt. The outbreak of the endemic is likely to be contained in the north and the new strain of meningitis stereotype ‘C’ detected is not really different from the other form of meningitis strain. It is just a likely mutation of the organism or similar organism because organisms too change from time to time.”

“They also mutate for survival and that means they get resistant to the existing antibiotics. But there is no cause for alarm because there are available antibiotics that can combat the newly detected strain and we have enough doctors with medical experience to diagnose and treat if presented early,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.

In order to prevent the spread of the disease, a public health expert, Humphrey Okoroukwu, advised Nigerians to live in ventilated environments during hot seasons as the disease is seasonal and common during the hot dry season.

Mr. Okoroukwu, a Deputy Director Public Health, Health and Human Services in Abuja, said meningitis is one of the diseases that is associated with hot weather and normally occurs between November and April annually.

“Ventilation is key, keeping the environment clean is very important and prompt visit to the hospital, access the facilities being provided like vaccination which is ongoing. People should avail themselves of the ongoing opportunity.

“There are some people who are healthy carriers of the disease, they spread it, they look healthy, but they do not know they have it,’’ he explained.

Mr. Okoroukwu explained that the disease has incubation period of three to four days or two to 10 days in some people. He said though research has proven that everybody is at risk of the disease, considering their environment, the illness is most common in people aged one to 29.

He, however, urged the public to report to the nearest hospital on noticing any health challenge during this period.

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