NCDC releases Publich Health Advisory on Cerebrospinal Meningitis
The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control has released a public health advisory on Cerebrospinal Meningitis as high temperatures and low humidity, associated with the dry season, increase the likelihood of transmission of organisms causing Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) in Nigeria.
It offers 5 important tips to prevent the spread with the disease. Over the last one month, there has been an increase in the reporting of suspected cases of CSM in Katsina, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kano, Bayelsa and Ondo with confirmed cases of Neisseria Meningitis Type C (Nmc) reported in Zamfara and Jigawa States.
The NCDC and partners have commenced preparedness activities, through the national CSM Technical Working Group (TWG). The TWG has completed a risk assessment exercise for prioritisation, and issued letters of alert to states to ensure adequate preparedness this season. NCDC is issuing this public health advisory note to members of the public to be aware of the risk and take appropriate precautions.
Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) is an acute inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and the spinal cord. It is a very serious infection that can lead to death if left untreated. CSM remains a major public health challenge, affecting countries in the African meningitis belt, including 25 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Nigeria.
Large outbreaks of CSM usually occur during the dry season (i.e. November through May). The disease is contagious and can be transmitted through tiny droplets of respiratory secretions from an infected person, during close contact such as coughing or sneezing. The disease is more common among persons aged less than 15 years and deaths are higher among untreated cases.
Signs and symptoms include sudden high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, difficulty concentrating, and convulsions. The major risk factors for infection include overcrowding and poor ventilation. During outbreaks, reactive vaccination campaigns can be used to prevent the spread of the disease.
To prevent the spread of CSM, NCDC offers five important tips to members of the public:
- Avoid overcrowding and ensure adequate ventilation in the home
- Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or by blowing into the elbow when sneezing or coughing.
- Wash your hands frequently especially after coughing or sneezing.
- Visit a health facility if you have sudden high fever or neck stiffness for diagnosis and treatment
- All health workers are advised to practice universal care precautions at all times: i.e. wearing gloves while handling patients or providing care to an ill relative
It is very important to report to the nearest health facility immediately, if you experience any of the signs or symptoms listed above. If you notice any member(s) of your family or neighbourhood with any of the listed signs or symptoms, kindly encourage them to report to the nearest health facility. Early presentation to a health facility and treatment increases chances of survival.