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The number of dead in the ongoing epidemic of cerebrospinal meningitis reached 328 by Friday, up from more than 200, the federal health ministry has announced.
So far, 2,524 people have been affected, and a total 131 samples have been confirmed through laboratory tests.
Majority of the tests showed infection by Neisseria Meningitides type C, a serotype that’s reached epidemic proportions for the first time.
“All previous epidemics were caused by Neisseria Meningitides type ‘A’ but this year we are recording Neisseria Meningitides type C in epidemic proportion for the first time,” the ministry said in a public advisory.
“Although the cumulative number of people and locations affected may continue to increase, the actual rate of increase has begun to decline in some states indicating that the end of the epidemic is in sight,” it added.
Ninety local government areas spanning 16 states are now affected since the outbreak started last November in Zamfara.
The other states include Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Nassarawa, Jigawa, FCT, Gombe, Taraba , Yobe, Kano, Osun, Cross Rivers, Lagos and Plateau.
A response team constituted last week is stepping up efforts to control the spread of the disease.
It is also updating database on CSM surveillance and management for states with scanty data.
Another season of CSM is expected this October but the health ministry says it is preparing for that, noting “Very Important consideration shall be given to a vaccine with wider spectrum of antigens.”
In addition, Nigeria is expected to arrange for cross-border surveillance with Niger and Benin.
The advisory gives prevention, diagnosis and treatment warnings.
• Avoidance of overcrowding
• Sleep in well ventilated places
• Avoidance of close and prolonged contact with a case/s
• Proper disposal of respiratory and throat secretions
• Strict observance of hand hygiene and sneezing into Elbow joint/sleeves
• Reduce hand shaking, kissing, sharing utensils or medical interventions such as mouth resuscitation
• Vaccination with relevant sero-type of the meningococcal vaccine
• Self-medication should be avoided
Early Diagnosis, Treatment and Isolation:
• Very important that all individuals should acquaint themselves with at least the basic knowledge/understanding of CSM and how it is transmitted and prevented
• Strictly adhere to the advice of Health workers on how to protect oneself as enumerated above
• Prompt seeking for medical/health care as soon as CSM or CSM-Like Illness is suspected
• All Hospitals to ensure that appropriate Diagnoses are made including laboratory confirmation and immediate reporting through the surveillance system
• Commence early treatment as soon as the diagnoses of CSM is made
• Restrict mingling with other people once one is diagnosed as a case of CSM
• All Secondary and Tertiary Public Health Facilities should provide free treatment to all CSM Patients