Meningitis has killed 282 in five states — yet vaccines aren’t available

Health

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed the outbreak of cerebro spinal meningitis (CSM) in five states, with at least 282 deaths related to the disease.

Chikwe Ihekweazu, chief executive officer (CEO) of the centre, disclosed this to NAN on Thursday, explaining that vaccines for a new strand of meningitis called “stereotype C” were not commercially available.

“There is a vaccine available but it is not commercially available for the stereotype involved in this specific outbreak and we have to make application to the World Health Organisation for the vaccines,” he said.

Ihekweazu, who said there were vaccines for other strands of the disease, revealed that 1,966 suspected cases had been recorded in the the current outbreak, which started in February.

He said the centre had deployed a response team to the affected states to vaccinate the residents and control further spread.

According to him, Zamfara has the highest number of confirmed cases of 44, followed by Katsina with 32, Sokoto 19, Kebbi 10 and Niger four.

He also said there is an inter-agency response supporting the states to contain the outbreak through the primary mode of vaccination.

“Thankfully the vaccines have arrived and we have started vaccination campaign in Zamfara. We are in the process of starting in Sokoto and Kebbi states.

“We continue to advocate for scientists and for the global community to really try and push to develop a vaccine for meningitis `C’, on the other hand all we can do is prevention.”

Ihekweazu said prevention and early detection was key to combating the disease, if detected early, it could be treated with antibiotics.

He said the centre was working with the states by supporting and ensuring they have the supplies to combat the disease.

“Meningitis is a tough disease especially during this period and it is associated with over-crowding, understanding the living conditions in the country, people must keep their building ventilated,” he said.

He urged Nigerians to avoid sleeping in overcrowded condition and if a lot of people, and suggested that if a lot of people must sleep together in the same room, the windows and doors must be open to allow enough ventilation.

The chief executive officer said the centre would work with state governments in the north-west and north-central, where most cases were recorded, to ensure better preparation and avert similar outbreak next year.

The Abuja authorities had earlier confirmed five deaths in the Nigerian capital.

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