Meningitis Outbreak in Nigeria Leaves at Least 140 Dead, Thousands Infected
According to officials, at least 140 people have been killed in a meningitis outbreak in six states in Nigeria, International Business Times reported.
Aside from the number of deaths, more than 1,000 people have been infected. The report added that the outbreak was caused by a new strain of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM), which is not common in Nigeria. State of high alert declared by the ministry since March 20.
The current outbreak is the worst in the country since 2009 when at least 156 people died. BBC noted that although meningitis can be prevented via vaccination, Nigeria still has not developed a particular vaccine to control the new strain.
Local Media said the Commissioner for Health, Alhaji Balarabe Kakale, is leaning on the possibility of closing schools to prevent the spread of the disease.
"This is to save more lives of the people of the state, although the cases are reducing, while the people are now reporting the suspected cases to the health facilities," Kakale, said during the ongoing sensitization campaign in Dange-Shuni Local Government Area of Sokoto State, where 23 people have already died due to the outbreak. Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto account for 89% of the deaths brought by the outbreak, Outbreak News Today reported.
Aside from the dry weather and dusty winds, the outbreak had been intensified by traditional beliefs of the Nigerians that resulted to poor hygiene and uncontrolled population. Kakale is currently doing rounds in Nigeria to spread awareness and correct information about meningitis.
"We are hereby again, calling on the people of the state that the cases of meningitis should not be linked to witchcraft or sorcery. Rather, all suspected cases should be reported to the hospitals as the state government had stocked adequate drugs and medicament for the free treatment of the patients," he added.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the layers of the brain and spinal cord. CSM is classified as a medical emergency. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) about 10 to 15 percent of patients diagnosed with CSM die.