Children, adolescents worst hit by meningitis outbreak

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control says children and adolescent are the worst affected by the current outbreak of meningitis in the country.

The organisation said this in a series of tweets updating Nigerians on the outbreak of the disease and its response so far.

“In this outbreak most affected are around ages 5-20. What differentiates meningitis is neck stiffness and extreme sensitivity to sunlight,” the organisation tweeted via its official handle @NCDCgov.

NCDC warned against self-medication and encouraged anyone who has symptoms of meningitis to visit a health facility.

“Meningitis is preventable and treatable but early diagnosis is key. The era of self-medication is over,” the organisation tweeted.

On Monday, Chikwe Ihekweazu, the chief executive officer and national coordinator of the NCDC, told the senate that Nigeria now has a total of 2,524 cases of meningitis from 16 states although five states, Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi and Niger, are the most affected.

He said the country now has 328 deaths from the outbreak.

“It has now reached a total of 2,524 cases altogether, of which 131 have been confirmed to be bacterial meningitis and we have had 328 deaths,” he told the senate committee on primary health care and communicable diseases.

Mao Ohuabunwa, chairman of the committee, said the federal government’s response was inadequate.

He said since the outbreak was first noticed in December, there should have been a comprehensive public awareness strategy.

“We should have been on air at the local level, letting people know that by this time of the year we will have this occurrence (outbreak),” Ohuabunwa said.

“This is not the first time we are hearing about meningitis and we know that most times, it occurs during heatwave. I expect that we should be able to anticipate his every year; not only waiting but to anticipate either by vaccination or sensitization. From the feelers, we are not getting anything.

“If this had been detected early, then we would have had rounds of vaccinations and would not be having this epidemic.”