According to Nigerian health officials, the meningococcal meningitis outbreak in the country has now claimed 328 lives to date, mostly affecting states in the part of Nigeria which fall within the African Meningitis Belt.

meningitis epidemics
African meningitis Belt/CDC

The Federal Ministry of Health situation report from Friday says that 90 local government areas in 16 states of the federation have so far been affected including Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Nasarawa, Jigawa, FCT, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Osun, Cross Rivers, Lagos and Plateau.

According to statistics from the federal health ministry, 2524 people have been affected across the states, 131 samples confirmed in the laboratory with majority as meningitidis type C, and 328 deaths recorded so far.

To compound the problem, Nigeria is facing a major shortfall in vaccines to contain the outbreak. The head of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu  said the type of meningitis C strain responsible for the outbreak was not common in Nigeria and there was a “limited stock” of vaccine worldwide.

The countries of the African Meningitis Belt, including parts of Nigeria, face outbreaks of the deadly bacterial disease every year.

According to the global health non-profit organization, PATH, about 450 million people are at risk of the deadly disease. Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Sudan, and Ethiopia are considered hyperendemic, meaning populations in these countries are at the highest risk of developing meningitis.