By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna.
As the heatwave spreads with intensity in the last couple of weeks, no fewer than 16 persons have been confirmed dead following the outbreak of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis at Tungan-Jika and Mazakari villages in Magama Local Government Council of Niger state.
So far 31 cases of persons with the symptoms of the disease were reported in four local government areas of the state out of which the 16 were killed by the disease.
Commissioner of Health and Hospital Services in the state, Dr. Mustapha Mohammed Jibrin disclosed during a press briefing on Tuesday in Minna that the deadly disease was in season but added quickly that the state government was on top of the situation.
He said of the number of fatalities, nine were females while seven were males who died in Magama villages.
The Commissioner said those who died were between the ages of 1-20 years adding that the disease is prevalent in the four local governments areas of Magama which has the highest number of registered patients with 23 cases, Rijau has 4 cases, Kontagora recorded 3 cases and Agwara has one case that was first reported on 6th March, 2017.
Regrettably, about 77% cases of the deaths so far recorded from the disease were in Magama area where most of the locals ignorantly attributed the deaths to witchcraft attacks on the community.
The Commissioner explained that in the current year alone, a total of 374 cases of Meningitis were recorded in 21 states with 49 deaths.
He said the disease is prevalent usually between the months of December and June every year due to excessive heat, overcrowding, poverty, malnutrition amongst other causative factors.
The Commissioner explained that the disease has nothing to do with witchcraft practice. “Meningitis is caused by bacteria which affectes the central nervous system and spinal cord”
He said the symptoms of the disease usually manifests between 2 and 10 days window period of infection. The symptoms includes fever, severe body pains and neck stiffness.
Dr. Jibrin appealed to households to avoid overcrowded rooms, ensure proper ventilation in all rooms day and nights.
He said the state government is putting up prompt response and identification of the disease in health centres for treatment of the victims just as he said it was erroneous to attribute the disease to witchcraft attacks.
He said good ventilation, good hygiene, regular hand washing amongst others health practices were some of the ways to avoid the deadly disease.
The Commissioner charged those living in rural areas to report at health centres nearest to them when anyone of them comes down with symptoms of the disease. Delay he said could be dangerous.
He allayed fears amongst citizens over the prevalence and possible spread of the disease saying the state government had taken steps to curtail the disease but urged citizens to do the needful in helping themselves.
“The situation has been brought under control. We have drugs for the treatment of the disease but prevention is better than cure he said. The state government is partnering the World Health Organisation, (WHO) for the preventive measures on how to stem the spread of the disease he said.