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Health Minister alerts on meningitis outbreak

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The minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole has appealed to Nigerians to be on the look out for suspected cases of outbreak of meningitis, saying the country is already approaching its season.
Professor Adewole made this appeal in Ibadan, Oyo State over the weekend while speaking with the members of Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria, on some of his ministry’s preparedness to curtail any reported outbreak of CSM.
The Minister said the alert is important because the country has no money to vaccinate all Nigerians.
He said it is known that meningitis is seasonal and this is the season, “that is why we are saying Nigerians should be on the lookout for it. It is so easy to treat. The vaccine is expensive.  When a case is detected we have an epidemic threshold then we quickly vaccinate people in the Local Governments, that is the best we can do for now.  When we are more prosperous then we can vaccinate everybody.”
Prof Adewole added that the conjugate vaccine will protect everybody for 10 years, the polyvalent vaccine for three years, as he added that for now both are expensive.
“The conjugate is about $20 a vial, while the polyvalent is $3 a vial, so you can calculate what we need for the Nigeria population, and that is for just the vaccine, not including the syringes and other consumables, so our best bet is to alert Nigerians that this is the season for meningitis and they should beware. We need to contain it,” he noted.
The Minister retriaiated that anywhere there is an outbreak of CSM, the system is weak, as he explained that Kaduna state had an outbreak but contained it.
“And there was another outbreak in Zamfara and because the system was weak, it killed many people. Meningitis is seasonal and this is the season and we are alerting Nigerians. The terrible outbreak we had in 2017 was because it was on for three months before we got to know.
” All of us know what meningitis is, it requires a lumbar puncture, look at the fluid cerebrospinal fluid, when you check and it is milky, then you know there is infection and you can culture it and begin treatment.
“It is so easy to treat because the causative organism is responsive to antibiotics, but when we do not know that it is meningitis, we could treat malaria for three to five days, typhoid for one week then by the time we get to know, it would have spread.
“And it spreads like wildfire. As we attend to patients, 10 people can surround the infected person and that one patient would infect six or seven persons and it spreads like that. So this is the season to alert people to look out and promptly report any suspicion to nearest health facility.”
“Prompt reporting by people will assist the government to curtail further spread, and even deaths, because, “The government does not have enough money to vaccinate the whole country. The meningococcal vaccine is expensive and what we are trying to do case detection. Once we have a case to treat, it causes what we call an epidemic and we can quickly do its prevention, so help us alert Nigerians that this is the season and we need to curtail it,” said Prof Adewole.
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