Meningitis is an inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal cord (otherwise known as the meninges).
Currently, there is an outbreak of meningococcal infection i.e meningitis caused by the ‘C Strain’ of Neisseria meningitides. This outbreak has caused a lot of reduced quality of life and death. Recently, WHO reported a total of 1,407 suspected cases of meningitis had been recorded in 5 states, including Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger, with a total number of 211 deaths. However, as at April 3rd, 2017, this recorded number has increased to 2,997 cases with 336 deaths recorded in 16 states, including Jigawa, Nassarawa, FCT, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Kano, Osun, Cross River, Lagos and Plateau.
Death of infected persons can occur within few hours after infection; in other cases permanent disabilities, such as hearing loss, brain damage, learning disabilities, can be the resultant effect of meningitis.
Some of the symptoms which may be experienced by infected persons are:
– Sudden high fever
– Stiff neck
– Headache with nausea or vomiting
– Skin rashes
– Vomiting and diarrhoea
Vaccination is the single most effective mode of prevention, however, due to the rareness of the current outbreak which belongs to the “Meningococcal C Group” (previous meningitis outbreaks in Nigeria have been caused by the “Meningococcal A Group”), there is a shortage in supply of the vaccine; however, the Nigerian Government is making much effort in making the vaccine available in the country. In the meantime, here are some preventive measures:
– Avoid overcrowded places
– Sleep in well-ventilated rooms
– Strictly observe health hygiene such as regular handwashing
– Avoid close contact with affected persons
– Avoid sharing items with items with persons that present with symptoms of meningitis