An outbreak of meningococcal meningitis at a Zambian high school has sickened six and killed three during the past two weeks, according to local media.
Health Minister Joseph Kasonde has told a media briefing in Lusaka today that six cases of meningitis were reported from the 20th June to 3rd July of which three cases were lost and ended up in deaths while the other 3 were admitted to Kabompo district hospital.
The outbreak has prompted the closing of the Kabompo High School and health officials are screening contacts and encouraging students to receive antibiotic prophylaxis.
The strain of Neisseria meningitis has not been reported.
Meningococcal disease is spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions such as saliva or mucus, and is most commonly spread through direct, close contact with an infected individual, which can include kissing and sharing of beverages, eating utensils, and lip balm. It is not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.
Symptoms include rapid onset of a fever, headache and stiff neck. Other symptoms can include vomiting, rash, and confusion. Meningococcal disease can result in serious health consequences that require immediate medical attention.
Bacterial meningitis can be treated withantibiotics. Antibiotics may be recommended for those in close contact with an infected person to decrease the risk of spreading disease. There are also vaccines available to protect against certain strains of bacterialmeningitis. Individuals should consult with their health care provider about their risk for meningococcal disease and eligibility for vaccination.