Health alert: Meningitis cases cross 409 …5 regions record cases, 40 die

At least 409 cases of Meningitis have been recorded in five regions in the Northern sector of the country with 40 deaths, according the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

It said the death count in the affected regions, comprising Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East and Upper West, as of Wednesday April 15, represented a 15 per cent fatality rate.

A statement issued by the GHS Director-General, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, has therefore advised residents in those areas to report early for treatment since investigations had shown that, the high fatality was due to late reporting of cases.

“Though there is no vaccine for the strain causing the current outbreak, effective treatment is available. There is the need to ensure early reporting and initiation of treatment to significantly improve outcome and improve survival rate,” it said.

It said the Upper West Region which started reporting sporadic cases in February, this year, had been the hardest hit especially in the last two weeks, resulting in 258 cases.

The statement said the current outbreak in the region was caused mainly by a new strain of bacteria; Neisseria Meningitis Serotype X, which had no vaccine and streptococcus pneumonia which had an average case fatality of 40 per cent.

As part of measures to address the situation, it said, the service had deployed a team of experts led by the Head of the GHS Disease Control to the region to provide technical assistance to rapid response teams at all levels, already trained and equipped to undertake case search and management.

It said in addition to regional stock, 7,500 vials of Ceftriaxone; the appropriate anti-biotic for the management of the disease and funds had been provided to support response.

Per the statement, regional and district public health emergency management committees had been activated with support from chiefs and opinion leaders whereas intensive public education on the disease was ongoing.

“ We wish to reassure  the general  public and people of the  Upper West  that  we remain  committed  to bring  the outbreak  under control . We encourage all to report early to the nearest health facility when they feel ill,” it said.

Meningitis is an acute febrile illness involving the covering of the brain and spinal cord (meninges). Symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness, altered consciousness, convulsion /seizures and coma.

 It is endemic in Ghana, particularly in the northern sector regions that fall within the meningitis belt of Africa. Each year, the five aforementioned regions report sporadic cases which surges during the dry season.


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