NewsDesk @bactiman63

The World Health Organization reports:

From 1 October 2022 to 16 April 2023, a total of 1686 suspected cases, 532 confirmed cases and 124 deaths (CFR: 7%) have been reported from 81 local government areas (LGAs) in 22 out of 36 administrative states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), in Nigeria.

Image/Robert Herriman

Jigawa state accounts for 74% (n = 1252) of all suspected cases, and this state borders the Zinder region in Niger, where a meningitis outbreak has been reported since October 2022.

Jigawa state consists of 27 LGAs, of which 25 have reported at least one suspected case. There have been 66 deaths in Jigawa state.

Nationally, of the 247 CSF samples that tested positive for a bacterial infection by PCR, the vast majority (91%) were Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C (NmC) followed by Streptococcus pneumoniae (13 cases -5.4%) and only one case (0.4%) of Haemophilus influenzae.

Meningitis is a serious infection of the meninges, the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It is a devastating disease and remains a major public health challenge. The disease can be caused by many different pathogens including bacteria, fungi or viruses, but the highest global burden is seen with bacterial meningitis.

Several different bacteria can cause meningitis. Streptococcus pneumoniaeHaemophilus influenzae, and Neisseria meningitidis are the most frequent ones. N. meningitidis, causing meningococcal meningitis, is the one with the potential to produce large epidemics.

meningitis epidemics
African meningitis Belt/CDC

Meningococcal meningitis is transmitted from person to person through droplets of respiratory and throat secretions, usually by asymptomatic carriers. Close, prolonged contact with an infected person, or living with a carrier, facilitates the spread of the disease. The average incubation period is four days but can range between two and 10 days.

The extended meningitis belt of sub-Saharan Africa, stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east (26 countries) and including the northern part of Nigeria, has the highest disease rates.  Meningitis in these countries follows a seasonal pattern, being most common during the dry season (December through June) with a peak between March and April, when there is persistent low air humidity and high dust loads that are believed to damage the pharyngeal mucosa and ease the colonization of the nasopharyngeal epithelium by the meningococci. Seasonal epidemics vary in size from year to year.

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