An outbreak of meningitis in several states of Nigeria, possibly involving a new strain, has killed at least 140 people, officials say.
Six states seem to be affected and the virus has so far infected more than 1,000 people, according to the Abuja Centre for Disease Control. The current outbreak is the worst in Nigeria since 2009 when it killed at least 156 people.
This specific outbreak has been attributed to cold nights, dusty winds and dry weather, which were aggravated by traditional beliefs, poor hygiene, and overpopulation, according to the BBC reporter investigating the story.
Meningitis causes an acute inflammation of the outer layers of the brain and spinal cord.
Vaccination is an effective way of preventing against meningitis (we can provide this, as it is not a standard vaccine on the Cayman schedule).
Although Meningitis is actually very rare in Cayman, we still have to be vigilant because we have a very multicultural population who travel widely and could bring this back with them. Of course, we also have up to 20,000 visitors in any one day from all over the world from cruise ships.
A primary and classic symptom of meningitis is a blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it, but this doesn’t always appear every case. The classic rash associated with meningitis usually looks like small, red pinpricks at first. It then spreads over the body quickly and turns into red or purple blotches.
The rash can be harder to see on dark skin. Check for spots on paler areas like the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, the tummy, inside the eyelids, and the roof of the mouth.
If you press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin and the rash doesn’t fade, it’s a sign of blood poisoning (septicaemia) caused by meningitis and you should get medical advice right away.
You should get medical advice as soon as possible if you’re concerned about yourself or your child. Trust your instincts and don’t wait until a rash develops.
Meningitis can have a number of other symptoms, too, including:
- a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
- feeling and being sick
- irritability and a lack of energy
- a headache
- aching muscles and joints
- breathing quickly
- cold hands and feet
- pale, mottled skin
- a stiff neck
- a dislike of bright lights
- fits (seizures)
Babies may also:
- refuse feeds
- be agitated and not want to be picked up
- have a bulging soft spot on their head (fontanelle)
- be floppy or unresponsive
- have an unusual high-pitched cry
- have a stiff body
These symptoms can develop in any order and some may not appear.
IMPORTANT NOTE: IF AT ALL UNSURE SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ADVICE
The following external resources may help you learn more about Meningitis:
(links go straight through to relevant pages)
https://www.cdc.gov/ American Center for Diseases Control
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/ UK NHS Information
http://www.comomeningitis.org/facts Confederation of Meningitis Organisations Factsheet