Meningitis kills four in Niger

Vaccination used to illustrate the story
Vaccination used to illustrate the story [Photo Credit: SundiataPost]

The Niger State Government has confirmed the death of four persons in the state from ‘C strain’ cerebrospinal meningitis.

The state commissioner of health, Mustapha Jubril at a press statement on Wednesday said about 31 cases have so far been reported with nine laboratory tests confirmed including the four deaths.

The deaths were recorded in Katcha local Government Area of the state.

Mr. Jubril said disease surveillance and notification system under the state epidemiology unit also noted the rise of cases in some local government areas.

He however said the ”cases and deaths recorded” have so far remained ”confined to two local government areas namely Magama and Katcha.”

“Twelve samples have been taken of the 31 cases out of which nine have been confirmed positive for Serotype C, giving sample collection and positivity rates of 38.7 per cent and 75 per cent respectively,” he said.

Mr. Jubril said in response to the outbreak, the State Ministry of Health has, ”activated all outbreak response mechanisms.”

“We are working closely with LGA health authorities, World Health Organisation, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders and other partners as well as with community leaders and civil society groups to coordinate this response.

“Accordingly, adequate measures have been or are being taken to ensure that the epidemic is contained in a timely manner so as to prevent further deaths and disabilities.”

Last year, about 1,116 people across the country had died from the strain ‘C’ outbreak before the disease was finally declared over in June.

This year, Yobe State has also recorded ten cases of the disease with three deaths.

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, had earlier this year warned Nigerians of the possible outbreak of the disease and explained that the government cannot afford to vaccinate everyone in the country.

Menigitis is a seasonal epidemic which usually occurs during the dry season.

While it is a vaccine-preventable disease, strain ‘C’ is severe and expensive to treat.
Mr. Adewole had said though the disease is easy to diagnose, the preventive vaccine is very expensive.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache and neck stiffness.

Other symptoms include confusion or altered consciousness, vomiting, and an inability to tolerate light or loud noises.

The disease can also be transmitted from person-to-person through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions from carriers.

Measures that can be taken to prevent meningitis include frequent washing of hands, good personal and environmental hygiene, covering of one’s mouth/nose when coughing/sneezing, avoiding overcrowded areas, ensuring adequate and cross-ventilation and generally practising healthy living.

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Ayodamola Owoseye is a senior reporter covering the health beat for PREMIUM TIMES.  She is a graduate of the University of Ibadan, and holds a B.A in Anthropology and M.Sc in Information Science.

Ayodamola advocates gender equity and loves travelling and listening to old skool music. Twitter: @damolaowoseye

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