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FG warns of Meningitis outbreak in Nigeria

The Federal Government has alerted Nigerians to the outbreak of Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM).


Meningitis is more prevalent during the dry season.


The government said the warning became imperative as the weather condition brings with it frequent upper respiratory tract infections that increase the risk of infection, especially with crowding and poor ventilation.


The 2022/2023 statistics revealed that Nigeria recorded 2,765 suspected and 303 confirmed meningitis cases with 190 deaths across 140 local government areas in 30 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Director General (DG) of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), Ifedayo Adetifa said.


The NCDC boss said the highest burden of Cerebrospinal Meningitis in Nigeria occurs in the “Meningitis Belt” which includes all the 19 states in the North, the FCT, and some southern states, such as Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun.


In a public health advisor issued Thursday, JAn. 11, Adetifa assured Nigerians that the government is working to prevent, detect, and respond to cases of the disease.


The BCDC boss explained that despite significant progress in surveillance, diagnostic capacity, and vaccination over the last few years, CSM remained a priority disease and ever-present public health threat in Nigeria.


He said its annual outbreaks in high-burden states pose a challenge to the people, health systems, economies, and communities.


Adetifa said the NCDC, in collaboration with ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) and partners through the CSM TWG, had implemented several measures to ensure enhanced coordination, collaboration, and communication for response across the country.


Among other preventive measures, he said: “At the beginning of the season, all state governments and public health authorities were alerted to the heightened risk of a CSM outbreak and the need for resource mobilisation for preparedness and response activities.


“Routine meetings of the national multi-sectoral CSM TWG (were held) to coordinate prevention and preparedness activities.


“Regular communication (were held) with high-burden states to ascertain status, progress, and challenges.”


Adetifa said it is important to ensure that everyone received the appropriate vaccination required to protect against meningitis while avoiding close and prolonged contact with a confirmed case of CSM, including relatives.


The BCDC boss also warned that smoking and overcrowding in households should be avoided, in addition to practicing proper respiratory hygiene when coughing or sneezing.

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