Photo: The Guardian
By Ayodamola Owoseye
The Federal Ministry of Health in response to the current cerebrospinal meningitis outbreak across some states in the country has issued a public advisory note on how to curtail the spread of the disease and advised Nigerians to remain calm as the ministry is working to put an end to the epidemic.
The ministry also said 328 deaths have been recorded so far.
A press statement signed by Boade Akinola, Director Media and Public Relations released on Friday, said the current outbreak of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis, CSM, has spread across the country, mostly affecting states in the part of Nigeria which fall within the African Meningitis Belt.
The situation report from the ministry as at Friday, March 31, show that 90 local government areas in 16 states of the federation have so far been affected including Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Nasarawa, Jigawa, FCT, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Osun, Cross Rivers, Lagos and Plateau.
The epidemic is not unique to Nigeria, the ministry said, with other neighbouring West African countries like Niger, Chad, Cameroun, Togo and Burkina Faso are facing similar outbreak.
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According to statistics from the federal health ministry, 2524 people have been affected across the states, 131 samples confirmed in the laboratory with majority as meningitides type C, and 328 deaths recorded so far.
The outbreak started in Zamfara State in November, 2016. The ministry has, however, advised Nigerians to remain calm as the disease is preventable and curable if presented early.
“We advise Nigerians to continue abiding by health advice which will be issued periodically as feed back of the situation will be given to the public”, it stated.
Some of the health advice given for prevention are avoidance of overcrowding, sleep in well ventilated places, avoidance of close and prolonged contact with cases, proper disposal of respiratory and throat secretions, strict observance of hand hygiene, reduce hand shaking, kissing, sharing utensils or medical intervention such as mouth resuscitation.
Self medication should also be avoided and relevant stereotype vaccination for meningococcal should be taken. It is also important for individuals to acquaint themselves with basic knowledge of CSM in order to prevent transmission.
Mrs. Akinola said people should seek early treatment as all secondary and tertiary public health facilities have been directed to provide free treatment to all CSM patients.
“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 to the epidemic is in sight,” she added.