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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Meningitis Outbreak in Gombe results in six deaths, officials confirm

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The Gombe State Government, north-east Nigeria, has announced the outbreak of Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM), an infectious disease associated with the inflammation of brain and spinal cord membranes.

The government said six persons have, so far, died of the disease. Five of the deaths were recorded in Nafada Local Government Area and one in Funakeye Local Government Area.

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The state’s Commissioner for Health, Habu Dahiru, said these during a press briefing on Thursday.

“The alarm was raised on 18 February when reports surfaced of individuals displaying symptoms indicative of CSM in Nafada Local Government Area (LGA),” Mr Dahiru said.

Intervention

The commissioner said the situation prompted the authorities to take urgent action. So far, a total of 95 cases have been recorded, with 83 individuals successfully treated and discharged, leaving six under medical care.

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“We responded swiftly by activating an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), comprising WHO, UNICEF, and NCDC, to address suspected CSM cases and assess the possibility of Lassa fever,” Mr Dahiru said.

He said that although an Incident Management System (IMS) has not yet been initiated due to the threshold for a CSM outbreak not being met, the situation remains critical.

“We are now at Alert Threshold in Nafada and Funakaye LGAs,” he stated

Mr Dahiru emphasised the proactive stance taken by the government, saying: “The EOC’s directives include engaging with local communities, religious leaders, and healthcare professionals to raise awareness about CSM, distributing essential medications free of charge, and conducting comprehensive case searches across affected areas.”

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READ ALSO: Meningitis outbreak kills 65 children in Jigawa as residents lament poor go

He said the State Rapid Response Team (RRT) has been deployed to bolster efforts in Nafada and Funakaye LGAs, focusing on sample collection, dissemination of medical supplies, and active case detection.

The collective aim is to contain the spread of CSM while awaiting confirmation on suspected cases of Lassa fever.

He affirmed the transparency of Gombe State’s response, citing unwavering support from state leadership in safeguarding public health.

The commissioner said: “In Gombe State, we never hide any outbreak because we have the full support of His Excellency to safeguard the health of the people. As Gombe State braces itself against this outbreak, residents are urged to remain vigilant and cooperate with health authorities to curb the spread of CSM, emphasizing the importance of early detection and prompt medical intervention.”

Heatwave

Though it is not in all cases that excessive heat causes meningitis, health experts have advised Nigerians to always avoid crowded and poorly ventilated places to prevent the disease.

In a recent report by the News Agency of Nigeria and published by PREMIUM TIMES, a medical practitioner, Chioma Ofoekii, said the disease is common during hot weather, and advised Nigerians to avoid being caught up in hot environments.

She said: “In Nigeria, these seasonal outbreaks are common during the hot, dry and windy weather. Therefore, it is not necessarily heat that causes meningitis.”

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