In a follow-up on the meningococcal meningitis outbreak in Tshopo Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as of September 21, 777 total suspected and confirmed cases have been reported including 167 deaths (CFR= 21.5%) in Panga, Banalia territory, in Kisangani district.
Twelve samples have been confirmed for Neisseria meningitidis serogroup W.
Meningococcal meningitis is causes the most severe form of bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can also be found in the bloodstream. This particular type of meningitis is very severe and can result in death if not treated promptly. Even in cases where treatment has been given, the fatality rate is around 15%.
The symptoms of bacterial meningitis are sudden, with fever, stiff neck, body aches and headaches. As the disease progresses other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia and seizures. A petechial rash seen on the trunk and lower extremities, bleeding complications, multi-organ failures and shock are usually final signs. This disease has the ability to kill within hours of getting it.
Up to 10-20% of older children and young adults carry this organism in the mouth and nose, though the carriage rate will vary with age and closeness of population. The majority of people that carry this bacterium have no clinical disease. The organism is spread person to person through respiratory secretions from the nose and mouth (coughing, sneezing and kissing). Experts are unsure why some people advance to meningitis disease while many do not.
Crowded living conditions facilitate the spread of the organism.
Vaccination is the best way to help protect against meningococcal infection.
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