Nigeria’s Ministry of Health has issued a public advisory following the outbreak of Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) that has spread across the country and mostly affecting States in the upper parts of the country which fall within the African Meningitis Belt.
Other Countries that are facing similar outbreaks at the moment include our West-African Neighbours like Niger, Chad, Cameroun, Togo, and Burkina Faso. The larger African Meningitis Belt consists of 26 Countries that stretch from Senegal, Gambia and Guinea Bissau in the west coast to eastern countries of Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Ninety (90) Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Sixteen (16) States of the Federation are so far affected including Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Nassarawa, Jigawa, FCT, Gombe, Taraba , Yobe, Kano, Osun, Cross Rivers, Lagos and Plateau. The total number of people affected across these States is 2524 with 328 Deaths. So far, a total 131 samples have been confirmed in the Laboratory, out of which a majority are Neisseria Meningitides type C. This current outbreak started in Zamfara State in the 50th week of 2016 (i.e. November 2016)
Information to the Public:
· 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
Finally, the Federal Ministry of Health calls upon the general public to remain calm as the disease Cebro-spinal Meningitis (CSM) is both preventable and curable. 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.
All Public Sector Hospitals (Secondary and Tertiary Hospitals) have been directed to provide free treatment for all Cases of Cerebrospinal Meningitis.
We wish to thank all our National and International Development partners (Multilateral and bilateral) who supported us in accessing the relevant CSM Vaccines which have already been deployed to Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina and FCT. We are equally reassured that more Doses are expected and all necessary documentation for the new vaccines arrivals have been concluded.
The Federal Ministry of Health will continue to provide regular feedback to the General Public on the necessary steps to take. Meanwhile, everybody is advised to remain calm and continue to abide by the health advisory being issued periodically.