Meningitis: 1,966 cases reported in five states

… as NCDC commences vaccination in affected states
The cases of cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) were first reported in Zamfara State late in 2016, and as of this week, the number of suspected cases reported stands at 1,966 with the outbreak reaching epidemic proportion in five states of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Niger.
This was made known in at a press statement released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in Abuja, yesterday.
According to Chikwe Ihekweazu, CEO, NCDC, “We understand meningitis peaks every year in the dry season in certain States and we must work better with these States to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives. We must work collectively to stop this outbreak and prevent outbreaks of this scale in the future. “Meningitis can be treated if detected early.”
Given the size of the outbreak and the number of states affected, the NCDC is leading a multi-agency CSM Outbreak Control Team to coordinate the response.
The agency says the team includes representatives from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), World Health Organisation, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), US Centres for Disease Control, Médecins Sans Frontièresand EHealth Africa.
According to the agency, 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.
Olubunmi Ojo, director of surveillance at the NCDC, noted that immunisation was key to the prevention of meningitis.
“NPHCDA is leading a reactive vaccination 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,” the agency stated.
It noted “NPHCDA is working closely with WHO to ensure that we get access to vaccines needed to respond to the outbreak and prevent further cases.
UNICEF is currently supporting affected States to scale up social mobilisation focusing on grassroots engagement, it said.
Ojo said, “Between 2011 -2014, the Men Afri Vacvaccination campaign against the predominantly circulating Neisseria meningitidissero group 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).
“The NCDC and its partner agencies and institutions at the Federal Ministry of Health will continue to work closely with States and we believe that our concerted efforts will bring this outbreak under control, as we also work towards preventing outbreaks of this scale in the future.”

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