Meningitis Outbreak: Death Toll Rises to 41 in Sokoto

  • Nasarawa govt assures residents of preparedness

By Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto and  Adams Abonu in Lafia

At least 41 people have lost their lives out of the 600 affected by the outbreak of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis in Sokoto State.

The state Commissioner of Health, Dr. Balarabe Kakale, made this known to journalists in Sokoto  at the weekend.

In Nigeria, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that the disease has claimed more than 300 lives in Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Niger States.

Meanwhile, Kakale attributed the deaths to lack of public support to routine  immunisation programme against certain diseases in the state.

Kakale also attributed the problem to  poor environmental and personal hygiene as well as  poor ventilation.

He described the “type C” meningitis as very deadly, saying all hands must be on deck to tackle the ugly trend.

The commissioner however, said the efforts of the state government had gone a long  way in curtailing the disease.

He posited that adequate drugs had been provided to various emergency response teams deployed to combat the disease across the state.

He appreciated the cooperation of council chairmen, traditional and religious leaders as well as development partners in curbing the menace.

Kakale further said the state government had taken steps to mitigate the effects of the outbreak by massive statewide sensitisation as well as advising the public to avoid sleeping in overcrowded rooms and ensuring proper ventilation.

“The massive public enlightenment campaign has resulted in a massive turnout of patients in our health facilities in affected areas who hitherto will have remained at home.

“ This in turn led to the treatment of all of the suspected cases of meningitis and other patients with non- contagious febrile illnesses like malaria.

“ Subsequently, there is abrupt decline and a possible halt in all meningitis related morbidities and mortalities,” he added.

However, the Nasarawa State Government has said plans are underway to vaccinate residents against the epidemic .

The Director of Public Health of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ibrahim Adamu, revealed this in an interview in Lafia, the state capital.

Meningitis, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is a bacterial infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord which has swept across 26 countries in sub-Sahara Africa,  killing and disabling young people annually or causing severe brain damage before hours.

During a visit to the Ministry of Health to ascertain level of preparedness towards curtailing eventual outbreak of the disease in the state,  Adamu said: “We are making contact with the CDC to be able to procure vaccines that will immunise citizens of Nasarawa State.”

He noted that the ministry in the last three years had embarked on awareness campaigns and immunisation exercise as precautionary measures against an outbreak of the disease, stating that there was no case of cerebral spinal meningitis recorded so far in the state. He then used the medium to appeal to the people of the state to avoid overcrowded spots, sleep in ventilated rooms and seek medical attention whenever they feel unusual.

“It affects usually young adults and people that leave in a very poorly ventilated environment,” he noted.

On the part of residents, they urged the government to create more awareness on the dangers of the disease.

They also called on the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company to make power available in order to control the hot weather being experienced.

“We need electricity, because in Lafia, we have problem of that especially this our school environment.

“We hardly see electricity and that is causing a lot of sicknesses to the students.

“My appeal to the government is to try to ensure stable electricity supply to all especially in Lafia where the heat is really intense”