THE current outbreak of Cerebrospinal Meningitis, CSM, in Nigeria is repetition of series of outbreaks mostly affecting States in the upper parts of the country which fall within the African Meningitis Belt. The meningitis epidemic is being caused by Neisseria Meningitides type C rather than the known Meningitides Type A. Nigeria has a long history of CSM epidemics. One of the worst occurred in 1996 when 109,580 cases and 11,717 deaths were recorded. In 2003, there were 4,130 cases and 401 deaths; 9,086 cases and 562 deaths in 2008, and 9,086 cases and 562 deaths recorded in 2009. As at Friday, March 31, 2017, there were 2,524 infections with 328 deaths recorded in 90 Local Government Areas in 16 States of the Federation. The affected States include Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Nassarawa , Jigawa, FCT, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe. Others are Kano, Osun, Cross Rivers, Lagos and Plateau. Bacterial meningitis is very serious and can be deadly. Death can occur in as little as a few hours, and even though most people recover from meningitis, however, permanent disabilities (such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities) can result from the infection.



Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) is a very serious infection that can be fatal urgent care is not given.
CSM is an acute inflammation of the membrane covering the brain and the spinal cord (meninges). This condition is classified as a medical emergency. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) about 10 -15 % of patients diagnosed with CSM die.



Meningitis can be caused by bacterial, viral, fungi and even chemicals. In our environment, the leading cause is bacterial. Bacterial meningitis is caused by various bacterial pathogens. Neisseria meningitides, Streptococcus pneumonias and Haemophilus influenza type B are the triad responsible for over 80% of all cases of bacterial meningitis.
Under certain environmental conditions such as dry weather, dusty winds, high temperatures during the day and cold temperatures at night (especially during the harmattan season from October to March), the virulence of these otherwise naturally existing microorganisms increases, causing sporadic outbreaks of cerebrospinal meningitis. People living in overcrowded conditions, poorly ventilated houses and generally poor sanitary conditions are very vulnerable to respiratory infections, and this encourages the growth and survival of the bacteria.
People at increased risk for bacterial meningitis include babies compared to people in other age groups. However, people of any age can develop bacterial meningitis. People working with meningitis-causing pathogens, such as microbiologists are routinely exposed to meningitis-causing bacteria are at increased risk for meningitis.



Bacterial and viral meningitis are contagious and can be transmitted through tiny droplets of respiratory secretions from infected person during close contact such as kissing, coughing or sneezing on someone, as well as sharing of eating or drinking utensils. Generally, the meningitis bacteria spread from one person to another although how people spread the germs often depends on the type of bacteria. It is also important to know that people can carry these bacteria in or on their bodies without being sick. These people are “carriers.” Most carriers never become sick, but can still spread the bacteria to others. Carrier rates may be as high as 25% during endemic periods and as high as 50% during epidemics. Incubation periods vary from 2 to 10 days.
Anyone can contract meningitis, but people whose bodies have trouble fighting infections are more susceptible.



Meningitis symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. There are often other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, photophobia (increased sensitivity to light) and altered mental status (confusion). In newborns and babies, the meningitis symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to notice. The baby may be irritable, vomit, feed poorly, or appear to be slow or inactive. In young babies, there could be bulging fontanelle (soft spot on infant’s head) or abnormal reflexes. If you think your baby or child has any of these symptoms, call the doctor right away. Symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within 3 to 7 days after exposure. Later symptoms of bacterial meningitis can be very serious (e.g., seizures, coma). Early diagnosis, treatment and isolation.



Although sometimes CSM can end up in fatality, most often it can be successfully treated with intravenous antibiotics. Early diagnosis (from clinical symptoms and laboratory investigations) and treatment can help prevent serious long-term consequences such as deafness, blindness, epileptic seizures and brain damage.



You can prevent CSM and avoid possible complications by practicing effective prevention. As preventive measures one need to:
– Avoid overcrowded places
– Wash your hands as often as possible
– Avoid direct contact with people coughing or sneezing.
– Allow adequate ventilation in our houses.
– Seek immediate medical help when you notice any of the symptoms of CSM.

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