Meningitis is an acute inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges.
Its outbreak in Nigeria is repetition of series of outbreaks mostly affecting States in the upper parts of the country which fall within the African Meningitis Belt.
Just Yesterday, April, the Federal Ministry of Health announced that the death toll has risen to 336 and a total of 2,997 suspected cases of Cerebrospinal Meningitis have been reported in 16 States in Nigeria as at April 3.
It was further explained that for the first time, the meningitis epidemic is being caused by Neisseria Meningitides type C rather than the known Meningitides Type.
The affected States include Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Nassarawa , Jigawa, FCT, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe. Others are Kano, Osun, Cross Rivers, Lagos and Plateau.
Below are 7 important facts you should about Meningitis;
1.) There Are Multiple Forms of the Disease
Meningitis can be caused by bacteria, a virus, or even fungi on certain occasions. Because of this, being able to recognize the cause of the infection that is swelling up the brain, brain stem, and spinal cord is critically important. The bacterial version of meningitis is the most deadly, accounting for the deaths of over 120,000 people around the world every year.
2.) Prompt Diagnosis and Treatment Isn’t A Guarantee For Survival
It is possible for someone to die from meningitis just 24 hours after the initial symptoms of the disease take place. About 10% of the cases of meningitis prove fatal even when treatment is received immediately. Another 20% of people will receive some form of permanent brain damage or disability as a direct result of the disease, meaning that only 70% of people with meningitis recover after encountering the symptoms.
3.) Anyone Can Contract Meningitis At Any Time
Meningitis is known to affect kids under the age of 5 and teens between the ages of 15-19 the most often, but the nature of the disease means that it can affect anyone at any time. It does not matter where someone lives in the world today. Meningitis may be more frequent in low income areas and where vaccines are not as available, but it is still found in every corner of every society.
4.) Vaccines Can Stop A Lot Of The Problems That Meningitis Can Cause
One of the most effective ways to stop meningitis before it ever starts is to be vaccinated against the disease. That’s why it is recommended as a part of every child’s vaccination program today. By exposing people to the dead and dying bacteria that cause the deadliest forms of the disease, children receive a higher level of protection against all bacterial forms of the disease.
Meningitis is often spread through personal contact, which is why smoking causes many people to become carriers of the virus or bacteria. Although seasonal factors can also contribute to the ability of people to pick up the disease and spread it, smoking is the #1 way that people increase their chances of picking up meningitis.
6.) Increasing Risk in Developing Countries
More cases of meningitis are found in developing countries that suffer from conditions of poverty, population overcrowding, and limited access to vaccines. Those that have survived symptoms of meningitis are likely to suffer long term health effects such as deafness, brain damage, learning difficulties, seizures, and limited physical activity and abilities.
7.)Transmission Of the Disease and Prevention
One of the top ways to prevent symptoms and risks of contracting meningitis is to become vaccinated. Other prevention tactics include hand washing frequently, exercising regularly, maintain a stable immune system, and cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.
By knowing these interesting facts about meningitis, preventative actions can be taken. Meningitis can be very deadly, but with proactive supports and knowledge of its effects on the human body, more people can survive their encounter with this killer.