Meningitis Continues to Plague Northern Nigeria

WHO/A. Zouiten
Disease outbreaks will pose a greater threat as temperatures continue to rise over the coming weeks and months. The start of the rainy season in April will further heighten the risk of cholera and meningitis epidemics and cases of malaria, which has become endemic in the north-east of the country, are also expected to rise.

In the past few days, over twenty-one people in the Nigerian state of Sokoto have died following an outbreak of meningitis. The state government has deployed fifteen medical teams to the twenty-three local governments of the state to prevent further spread of the disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between December 2016 and 19 March 2017, at least 1407 suspected cases of meningitis and 211 deaths (case fatality rate: 15%) have been reported from forty local government areas (LGAs) in five Nigerian states, with Zamfara, Katsina, and Sokoto accounting for 89 percent of the cases. At least 361 cases have been reported this month alone- about half of the total cases affecting residents ages five to fourteen. Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C (NmC) is the predominant serotype in this outbreak.

WHO and partners including National Primary health Care Development Authority, UNICEF, Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory training Program, eHealth Africa, Médecins Sans Frontières, Rotary International, and Nigeria Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are providing support to this outbreak.

Measures bring implemented:

  • Nigeria Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with support from the WHO, is taking the overall lead in coordinating the response at the national level.
  • Daily coordination meetings are being held at the state and LGA levels.
  • The rapid response teams are conducting active case finding, performing lumbar puncture of suspect cases and training local staff on case management.
  • Case management is being carried out at the public health centres at the LGA level.
  • 19 600 persons were vaccinated with the meningococcal ACWY vaccine in Gora ward in Zamfara state.
  • 500 000 doses of meningococcal AC PS vaccines and injection supplies was approved by the International Coordination Group (ICG) for utilization in Zamfara State which are planned to arrive on 27 March 2017.
  • Katsina state is preparing an ICG request for submission.
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