Bernice Dahn, Liberia’s minister of health, has confirmed that four people have tested positive for a strain of meningitis.
According to Reuters, a total of 31 cases of the ‘mystery illness’ had been reported, including 13 deaths in the outbreak, which has been linked to the attendance of the funeral of a religious leader.
While addressing journalists, Dahn said seven specimens from the disease tested positive to Neisseria meningitis, a contagious strain of the bacteria.
“Based on these initial results from the CDC Atlanta (U.S. centre for Disease Control), we believe that we are dealing with a probable outbreak of meningitis in Sinoe, which spread to Montserrado and Grand Bassa counties,” she said while advising citizens to be calm.
She said the government was investigating options for mass vaccinations against the illness, characterised by swelling of the membranes in the brain and spinal cord.
The sudden deaths stirred anxiety about an outbreak of Ebola, a tropical illness which is often spread through burial rituals whose outbreak ended less than a year ago.
As of April 26, the disease had claimed 813 lives in northern Nigeria
Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Niger and Kebbi are the five affected states where over 8000 suspected cases have been reported in Nigeria.
Mass vaccination is ongoing in the region to contain the spread of the disease.