The death toll has reached nine due to pneumococcal meningitis in the Tain District of the Brong Ahafo Region in South Ghana, according to a Citi 97.3 fm report. The outbreak of the bacterial infection began last month and nearly three dozen cases have been reported to date.
Tain District Health Director, Dr. Michael Rockson Adjei said, “We have recorded about thirty-one cases. The last case was two days ago. For more than 24 hours now, we have not had any new case. However, we lost a patient who was unconscious bringing the death toll to nine.”
Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, or pneumococcus, can cause many types of illnesses. Some of these illnesses can be life-threatening. Besides pneumonia, pneumococcus can cause other types of infections too, such as: Ear infections, Sinus infections, Meningitis (infection of the covering around the brain and spinal cord) and Bacteremia (blood stream infection), according to the CDC.
Some of these infections are considered “invasive.” Invasive disease means that germs invade parts of the body that are normally free from germs. For example, pneumococcal bacteria can invade the bloodstream, causing bacteremia, and the tissues and fluids surrounding the brain and spinal cord, causing meningitis. When this happens, disease is usually very severe, requiring treatment in a hospital and even causing death in some cases.
Pneumococcal bacteria spread from person-to-person by direct contact with respiratory secretions, like saliva or mucus. Many people, especially children, have the bacteria in their nose or throat at one time or another without being ill. This is called “carriage.” Doctors do not know why carriage only rarely leads to sickness.