Tuesday 28 March 2017

Health Alert! Meningitis Outbreak Kills Over 100 Across Nigeria

No fewer than 140 people have been killed in a meningitis outbreak in six states in Nigeria, including the federal capital, Abuja. 

The most common causes of meningitis are viral and bacterial infections. Meningitis causes an acute inflammation of the outer layers of the brain and spinal cord. 

More than 80 of the deaths occurred in north-western Zamfara state. Confirming the news, a director at Nigeria's centre for disease control, Dr Nasiru Sani Gwarzol, said the death toll was expected to rise. He however said the authorities are taking all necessary measures to rein in the outbreak. 

Nigeria's Minister of Health Isaac Adewole has said a new strain, which may have been imported from a neighbouring country, is now prevalent and requires a different type of vaccine. 

More than 1,000 people have been reportedly infected. The disease is spreading amidst fears it could be out of control if refugee camps, prisons and police cells become affected through crowds, the BBC's Chris Ewokor in Abuja says. 

BBC reports that the seasonal outbreak has been attributed to cold nights, dusty winds and dry weather, which were aggravated by traditional beliefs, poor hygiene, and overpopulation. Nigeria lies on the meningitis belt, stretching from the Sahel region to the Horn of Africa, where outbreaks occur regularly. 

Other Precautions in Meningitis Prevention

In addition to vaccinations, you should follow some commonsense precautions to help prevent meningitis.
Be careful around people who have meningitis. It's possible to catch some types of meningitis through contact with bodily fluids. So it might be spread by kissingsneezingcoughing, or sharing utensils or toothbrushes. If someone in your family has a contagious type of meningitis, try to limit contact with the infected person. Wash your hands after having contact with someone who has meningitis.

If you come into close contact with someone with meningitis, contact your health care provider. Depending on the extent of exposure and the type of meningitis, you may need to take an antibiotic as a precaution.

References: BBC, webmd.com 

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