The deadly pneumococcal meningitis has hit six regions in Ghana within the last two months. Total number of deaths from the disease nationwide stands at 37 as at 28th January 2016. The first case of the disease was recorded in the Brong Ahafo region which later spread to the Northern, Ashanti, Volta, Eastern regions and then now the Western Region.
The Ghana Medical Association has given indications that it is working around the clock to contain the disease and prevent it from spreading.
Onua news wants to educate our readers on Meningitis so we went to the Ghana Medical Association and these are our findings:
WHAT IS MENINGITIS?
Meningitis is a serious disease that affects the sheaths covering the brain and spinal cord. It must be treated early to avoid severe complications and death. Bacterial meningitis is the type of most concern In Ghana.
WHY SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT BACTERIAL MENINGITS?
A number of people have suffered from the disease in some of the regions in Ghana with a very high death rate.
WHERE IS MENINGITIS COMMON IN GHANA?
The Meningitis that tends to cause outbreak is common in the three northern regions of Ghana (Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions), but most of the people in these regions have been vaccinated against that disease.
There are however other types of meningitis that every part of Ghana is at risk, it does not cause extensive outbreak but can kill quickly if not reported to hospital early.
HOW DOES BACTERIAL MENINGITIS SPREAD?
Bacterial meningitis is spread from human to human through the passage of the disease from an affected person to a non-affected person.
It can be contracted through coughing, sneezing or kissing and the spread usually increases in dry and dusty conditions, particularly during the harmattan period
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR INFECTED PERSON TO SHOW THE DISEASE?
It takes between 2 and 10 days for the affected person to complain about ill-health (show symptoms)
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF THE DISEASE?
Meningitis is suspected if anyone who has fever and headache also has any of the following:
• Neck pain and Neck stiffness
• Confusion (Inability to think and act)
• sudden unexplained death
• In children: Bulging of the anterior fontanelle
IS THERE TREATMENT FOR BACTERIAL MENINGITIS?
Yes, antibiotics are used to treat this condition. Treatment success depends on how early you report when you are ill. The key to stopping an outbreak is public education to encourage members of the public to report to health facilities early to get treatment if they are ill.
ARE THERE VACCINES FOR MENINGITIS?
There are vaccines for certain types of meningitis but not all can be used in outbreak situations. There are vaccines for both the meningococcal and pneumococcal meningitis that is currently ravaging parts of the country.
HOW DOES ONE REDUCE THE RISK OF GETTING BACTERIAL MENINGITIS?
• Drink plenty of water
• Avoid overcrowded areas
• Make sure your doors and windows are open
• Sleep in rooms with sufficient air passing through
• Frequently wash your hands with soap and water
• Cover mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
• Report to the nearest health facility if you have fever, headache and neck pain
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOU OR ANYONE HAS MENINGITIS?
Quickly report to the nearest health facility. Do not self-medicate.
WHAT IS THE COST OF TREATMENT?
Treatment of meningitis in an outbreak is FREE at public health facilities