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Outbreak Pneumococcal meningitis: Health Ministry moves into action

At least eight people have died so far in the outbreak of the infectious disease.

  • Published:

The Ministry of health is assuring the general public that it is in control to contain a further spread of the outbreak of the deadly strain of Meningitis in the Brong Ahafo Region.

At least eight people have died so far in the outbreak of the infectious disease.

RELATED: Eight die over outbreak of pneumococcal meningitis

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meninges), with causes including bacterial, viral, parasites and even chemical.

A statement signed by the Head of Public Relations at the Ministry, Tony Goodman said "The districts teams have been supported by the Regional and National teams in order to contain the spread. There has not been any case for the past two days,"

 "If you see any symptoms, report early to a health facility because this can significantly improve treatment outcome and chances for survival. We wish to indicate that the Ministry of Health is doing everything possible to contain the situation and we count on the support and cooperation of all," the statement added.

Below is the full statement:

OUTBREAK OF MENINGITIS AND YELLOW FEVER IN SOME PARTS OF THE COUNTRY

Ministry of Health wishes to bring to the notice of the public that there is an outbreak of meningitis and yellow fever in the Tain District in Brong Ahafo and West Gonja in the Northern Regions respectively.

As at January 6th 2016, 30 suspected cases with 7 deaths have been recorded of the meningitis in the district whilst a total of twelve (12) cases of yellow fever have been reported and three (3) have died as a result since the end of 2015.

Typically with this kind of meningitis, fatality is high but potential for massive spread is low.

This is not Epidemic Meningococcal Disease or CSM, which is caused by Neisseria meningitides, which has potential for massive and widespread outbreaks.

It is worthy of note that the responses of the regions and districts so far are appropriate and adequate and we expect these response actions to contain and halt the outbreak.

The districts teams have been supported by the Regional and National teams in order to contain the spread. There has not been any case for the past two days.

If you see any symptoms, report early to a health facility because this can significantly improve treatment outcome and chances for survival. We wish to indicate that the Ministry of Health is doing everything possible to contain the situation and we count on the support and cooperation of all.

What is Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is an acute febrile illness that presents with fever, and jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the eyes), muscle pain with prominent backache, and headache. There may be bleeding tendencies. The disease spreads by the bite of infected mosquitoes (Aedes mosquitoes).

Symptoms appear after an incubation period of 3 to 6 days following the bite of the mosquitoe. Most patients improve and their symptoms resolve after 3 to 4 days. However about 15% of patients enter a second, more toxic phase within 24 hours of the initial remission. High fever returns and is accompanied by severe multisystem illness.

What is Meningitis

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meninges). Causes include bacterial, viral, parasites and even chemical. Bacterial meningitis is caused by various bacterial pathogens. Neisseria meningitides, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemphilus influenza type b represents the triad responsible for over 80% of all cases of bacterial meningitis.

Mode of transmission

Transmission or spread is by direct contact, including respiratory droplets from nose and throat of infected persons or carriers. Carrier rates may be as high as 25% during endemic periods and as high as 50% during epidemics. Incubation period varies from 2 to 10 days, an average of 3-4 days

Signs and symptoms of meningitis 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).

ACTIONS TAKEN SO FAR IN RESPONSE TO THE OUTBREAK

• Conducted investigation into the outbreak and exact causative agent identified to be pneumococcus. This can be treated with antibiotics and effective antibiotics identified. 

• Provided adequate stock of antibiotics (Ampicillin, Ceftriaxone and Erythromycin being organized to beef up what is in the District.

• Other logistics such as laboratory test kits, gloves etc. have been dispatched to the affected area.

• Communities have been visited and intensive public health education is ongoing

• Other outlets such as the radio station, Gong-Gong beating and community mobilization is also being used

• Surveillance on meningitis has been enhanced and Health workers sensitized on the outbreak.

• Municipal and Regional Epidemic management committees have been activated and are functional.

• Teams of health workers conduct contact tracing and primary and secondary contacts are managed as appropriate.

• OPD records from all health facilities have been reviewed from 20th December 2015 till date from all facilities to help determine missed cases.

• All districts in the region and neighbouring regions have been alerted to look for cases as well

What we require from the general public

People with symptoms and signs suggestive of meningitis (fever, headache, neck stiffness) should report immediately go to the nearest health facility.

Avoid overcrowding, prevent dryness of the throat by drinking, prevent cough and sneezing etiquettes.

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

TONY GOODMAN

HEAD, PUBLIC RELATIONS

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