How to protect yourself from Pneumococcal Meningitis

Ghana has been hit hard with the deadly strain of Pneumococcal Meningitis, which has so far claimed 33 lives.


This has caused fear and panic among Ghanaians as to how the disease can be contained to prevent it from further spreading to other areas.

The outbreak of the disease which began in December 2015 in the Tain District of the Brong Ahafo Region has spread to Wenchi, Techiman, Bruohan, Kintampo, and Sene districts all in the Brong Ahafo Region.

Bole in the Northern Region has also recorded some cases.

Meanwhile, here are five steps which can help prevent Pneumococcal Meningitis:

1. You must avoid overcrowded areas, drink enough water to prevent dryness of the throat, prevent cough and sneezing etiquettes.

Careful hand-washing should also be a priority to prevent germs. Teach children to thoroughly wash their hands often, especially before eating and after using the toilet, or after spending time in a crowded public place or playing with animals.

Other preventive measures include avoiding mosquito bite, sleeping in insecticide treated bed nets, environmental cleanliness and preventing stagnation of water in tins and tyres.

2. You must avoid close contact with persons exhibiting some signs and symptoms of meningitis.

The signs and symptoms to watch out for include sudden onset of severe headache, fever, vomiting, neck stiffness and photophobia (dislike for light). Other symptoms include lethargy, coma and convulsions. In babies, there may be bulging of the anterior fontanelle (soft part of the bead). If you notice these symptoms, kindly report to the nearest health facility.

3.  Avoid kissing, sharing cutlery or items like toothbrushes or cigarettes with persons showing the above signs and symptoms.

This is because several organisms usually bacteria which includes Neiserria meningitidis, STREPTOCOCCUS PNEUMONIA (causative agent for Pneumococcal meningitis), Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococus aureus causes the infection.

These organisms gain access to an individual through kissing, coughing, sneezing and sharing items.

4. Maintain your immune system by getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Be sure to cover your mouth and nose when you need to cough or sneeze.

For pregnant women, be careful with food you consume. You can reduce your risk of listeriosis by cooking meat before eating. You should also avoid cheeses made from unpasteurized milk. Remember to always choose cheeses that are clearly labeled as being made with pasteurized milk.

5. Older children and adults who need protection from pneumococcal bacteria may receive the Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the PPSV vaccine is recommended for all adults older than 65, for younger adults and children age 2 and up who have weak immune systems or chronic illnesses including heart disease, sickle cell anemia or diabetes, and for those who don't have a spleen.


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