Curbing spread of meningitis
By Raphael Ayodele
The dreadful disease, meningitis, has reared its ugly head once again in some cities, towns and villages in our country. It has claimed many lives and many are still lying critically ill in hospitals across the country.
In the April 9, 2017 edition of Sunday Tribune, it was reported that 438 lives had been lost and that many were on the danger list in hospitals.
It is on this premise, therefore, that I am going to examine the epidemiological trend and proffer the necessary remedial measures towards exterminating or controlling it.
The occurrence of meningitis is worldwide. It breaks out in many places, especially in South America and the Middle East; and the ‘meningitis belt’ of tropical Africa. Its causative organism is neisseria meningitis, while its reservoirs are human being. The mode of transmission is airborne. It can also be contracted through droplets and direct contact.
The signs and symptoms include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, neck stiffness, loss of consciousness and rashes. Its incubation period is between three and four days, or two and 10 days. It can be controlled by treatment of patients and contacts.
There are four basic approaches to the control of the meningococcal infections. The first is the management of sick patients and their contacts. The most effective and simplest treatment is for the individual in the hospital.
To prevent the disease in households contacts, rifampicin can be used coupled with immunisation. There is also environmental control at community level, designed to reduce airborne infections.
Besides, propaganda campaign can and should be mounted to explain how the meningitis infection spreads.
We need to persuade people to live in less crowded conditions in institutions such as schools, boarding houses and military barracks.
Dormitories should be spacious and well-ventilated. In areas where people tend to live in cramped, overcrowded accommodation, they should be advised to sleep outdoors to limit the risk of transmission of the infection.
Again, immunisation provides the most effective means of controlling epidemics. Surveillance, a system of epidemiological surveillance, must be established.
Data derived from treatment centres, hospitals, laboratories and special surveys must be collated, evaluated, analysed and disseminated to those who have to take action in the field.
National data on epidemics should be made available to neighbouring states and coordinated through the World Health Organisation (WHO).
An established committee responsible for the meningococcal disease should be established to meet at regular intervals to plan control strategies.
Communities must be accurately informed about “meningitis” epidemic in order to avoid panic.
Above all, without doubt, if the above control measures are implemented, the incidence of “meningitis infection” would be reduced drastically, if not totally eradicated.