Over 2,500 people have so far been affected by a Cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) outbreak in Nigeria, with 328 deaths recorded in ninety Local Government Councils.

The Federal Ministry of Health, which recently released these statistics, also disclosed that so far, a total 131 samples have been confirmed in lab testing, a majority of which is Neisseria Meningitides Type C.

The MOH added that states involved include; Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Nassarawa, Jigawa, FCT, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Kano, Osun, Cross River, Lagos and Plateau.

In a recent statement, the Director of Media and Public Relations in Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. Boade Akinola, stated the current outbreak started in Zamfara State in November 2016.

Mrs. Akinola said, “This is not the first time or the worst epidemic ever faced by Nigeria, this round of the epidemic has come with a difference, as all previous epidemics were caused by Neisseria Meningitides type ‘A’, but this year we are recording Neisseria Meningitides Type C in epidemic proportion for the first time.”

Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, said the government has secured 500,000 doses of the meningococcal vaccines from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which will be used in Zamfara and Katsina states, while additional 800,000 units are being expected from the British government.

He added that there will be a meeting with the International Review Group of the WHO on Tuesday, where request for additional vaccines shall be approved, as part of practical and medically certified efforts to stem this ugly incidence.

Mrs Akinola said the epidemic has spread across Nigeria, affecting mostly states in the upper parts of the country, which fall within the African Meningitis Belt, adding that other countries, such as; Niger, Chad, Cameroun, Togo, and Burkina Faso, are facing similar outbreaks at the moment.

“The historical background of the disease and past experiences has influenced health authorities in Africa (especially countries within the African Meningitis Belt), World health Organisation and many development partners to roll out a strategic intervention for the effective prevention of such epidemics.”

A CSM outbreak control team has been constituted to coordinate all responses aimed at controlling the outbreak, adding that the team’s membership includes, FMOH, NCDC, NPHCDA, WHO and other partners (MSF, UNICEF, CDC and EHealth Africa)

She listed the challenges being faced to include low CSF collection rates (CSF sample versus reported cases), weak logistics for sample transportation for prompt laboratory diagnosis and a weak coordination between SMOH surveillance officers and treatment centres, delayed reporting of suspected cases to national level and low availability of supplies (Ceftriaxone, Lumber Puncture Kits, TI media etc.) at the national level, among others.

Meanwhile, wild poliovirus has been detected in Gombe State. The disease was detected at gully erosion sites in Gombe State.

State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ishaya Kennedy, who disclosed this to journalists after the meeting of the State Emergency Response Committee, said although there was no reported case of the disease yet, the meeting looked into issues relating to four known epidemics namely; meningitis, measles, Lassa fever and polio, with a view to evolving a working plan to overcome the diseases in the state.