8 March 2018

Nigeria: Meningitis Kills 15 in Jigawa, Says Commissioner

The Jigawa State Government has said meningitis has killed 15 persons as 51 suspected cases were recorded in 10 local government areas of the state.

Premium Times had on Tuesday first reported a suspected outbreak of Cerebral Spinal Meningitis (CSM) ravaging Majiya town in Taura Local Government Area of Jigawa State

Investigations revealed that many of the reported victims started with complaints of fever and numbness in their legs.

The Commissioner for Health, Abba Zakari, yesterday confirmed the confirmed the outbreak to journalists in Dutse.

Zakari said that 51 suspected cases of CSM had so far reported to the ministry since November 2017.

"For instance, in Birninkudu we had two cases with one death; in Gagarawa one case but no death; in Jahun seven cases but no death.

"Malam Madori 10 cases with four deaths, in Ringim one case but no death; in Miga one case but no death; in Babura 11 cases but no death; in Dutse one case but no death.

"Maigatari recorded three cases but no death, and in Taura we had 10 cases and five deaths. And out of the 51 suspected cases, 10 were confirmed as meningitis, about 44 were not meningitis as it was only 10 that were confirmed meningitis. But out of 51, we lost around 14 of them, not nine as reported by some of the media.

"So, it is 51 suspected cases, 10 confirmed and 15 mortalities, and it cut across several local government areas of the state."

The commissioner pointed out that the state was within the meningitis belt of the African region, where meningitis epidemic is being recorded between every five and 10 years.

"You know Jigawa State falls within what is called meningitis belt of the African region and then from time to time you have the epidemic of meningitis.

"And incidentally it happens in a circle almost like every five to 10 years you have one or two epidemics.

"Now in Jigawa State, since November 2017, we have about 51 suspected cases of meningitis, and what we mean by suspected cases of meningitis is that people are showing some signs and symptoms that look like meningitis.

"But you cannot really say they have meningitis until you take what is called cerebrum spinal fluid and look at it under the microscope, if you can see the bacteria there then you can say that this is meningitis," the commissioner explained.

According to him, the ministry had contacted the federal government for drugs.

"The major challenge has always remained the non-availability of the drugs/vaccines. Fortunately, this morning as I spoke with National Primary Healthcare Develop Agency (NPHCDA), they confirmed to me that federal government has already donated drugs for us to fight the menace.

"We've increased the level creating awareness across the state so that people will be able to prevent themselves from getting infected and also quickly bring to hospital anyone that has the symptoms.

"We also use jingles on radio stations in the state so as to reach to the populace. We are therefore, advising residents to take precautions against the disease and make sure that they do not sleep in un-ventilated and overcrowded rooms," Zakari said.

The commissioner added that the ministry would soon conduct a state-wide campaign against the disease, targeting children between two and 15 years.

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