Beware As Meningitis Season Begins
Just a mention of meningitis strikes fear into the heart of many parents. This fear is valid and even more so as we progress through what is now called ‘meningitis season’ from November until June. Cerebro-spinal meningitis (CSM) is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord caused by viruses or bacteria.
Meningitis also affects adults but children are especially vulnerable with children between 5 and 14 years old being the most affected. Children accounted for 6,791 cases out of 14, 513 cases recorded in 24 states between December 2016 and June 2017. A total of 1,166 people died from meningitis in this period.
CSM is deadly and up to 20% of those who survive it develop disabilities such as brain damage and hearing loss among others. Immunization is a good preventive measure against meningitis and the HyBasic Family plan is a great option
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) recently released a warning for the outbreak especially because Nigeria is in Africa’s meningitis belt with regular outbreaks occurring every year in most states including Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe Nasarawa, Borno, Cross River, Jigawa, Taraba, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Plateau, Osun, and FCT amongst others.
If you have a high fever, headaches and can’t lower your chin to your chest, please see a doctor right away.
What causes meningitis?
A number of different viruses and bacteria can cause meningitis.
Viral meningitis is the most common and less severe form of the disease. It can still be serious with the most extreme cases leading to a deep coma. Bacterial meningitis is less common but is always a severe and serious illness.
Symptoms of meningitis
- Stiffness in the neck
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to bright lights
- Altered mental states, such as confusion and difficulty concentrating.
- Lack of energy or profound fatigue
- Decreased appetite
- General sleepiness
With viral meningitis, the symptoms are often less severe than with bacterial meningitis, and develop at a slower pace.Symptoms of bacterial meningitis typically develop rapidly over the course of three to seven days.
Children with bacterial meningitis may experience the symptoms listed above as well as vomiting, trouble breathing, seizures or shock.
Infants may show these symptoms:
- A bulging fontanelle (the soft spot on the head)
- Irritability when held
- Difficulty focusing the gaze
- Difficulty being fed
What are complications of bacterial meningitis?
If treated right away, most people return quickly to good health. Still, some cases can be fatal, and there may sometimes be
- Cognitive and speech difficulties
- Hearing difficulties, including permanent hearing loss
- Coordination problems
- Children may also develop behavioral problems
The later stages of bacterial meningitis can cause severe and life-threatening complications, including:
- Septicemia or blood poisoning
Meningitis acts very fast so once the symptoms start, patients need to get to the hospital as soon as possible for treatment.
Key things to note
- Avoid crowded living conditions
- Seek immediate medical advice when down with fever
- Be more alert to any outbreaks of the cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) near you
The disease spreads by human contact so it can easily transmitted to other parts of the country through human migration.