NCDC: We are focusing on immunisation, early detection to curtail meningitis outbreak

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says the meningitis outbreak control team is focusing on communicating prevention messages, case detection, verification and management to curtail the outbreak.

The organisation said this in a statement released on Thursday.

“The Outbreak Control Team is focusing on communicating prevention messages, strengthening surveillance, case detection, verification and management as well as communication and coordination across the affected states,” the organisation said in a statement.

“Meningitis can be treated if detected early.”

There is an outbreak of meningitis in five northern Nigeria states – Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Niger states – and according to the NCDC, the cases reported for the 2016/2017 cerebrospinal meningitis stands at 1,966 with first cases reported in Zamfara late 2016.

The NCDC stressed the importance of immunisation in the prevention of meningitis saying in the past, vaccination has led to a reduction in meningitis cases.

“Immunisation is key to the prevention of meningitis,” said Olubunmi Ojo, the director of surveillance at the NCDC.

“Between 2011 -2014, the MenAfriVac vaccination campaign against the predominantly circulating Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A in Nigeria then, led to a major reduction in cases recorded from that strain.”

“We now see an outbreak caused predominantly by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C (NmC). While reactive vaccination helps to curtail outbreaks, a vaccination campaign against NmC with a long-lasting conjugate vaccine is sorely needed in the region.”

The NCDC says it is collaborating with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), World Health Organisation, UNICEF, US Centers for Disease Control, Médecins Sans Frontières and EHealth Africa to support several states in northwest Nigeria to respond to the meningitis outbreak.

The organisation there is a reaction vaccination going on in Zamfara State, while a similar response is currently being planned in Kebbi and Sokoto States.

“Vaccines that provide protection to Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C (NmC) are not commercially available and need to be acquired through a special process managed by WHO,” NCDC said.

The organisation added that the NPHCDA “is working closely with WHO to ensure that we get access to vaccines needed to respond to the outbreak and prevent further cases. In addition, UNICEF is currently supporting affected States to scale up social mobilisation focusing on grassroots engagement”.