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In February, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, raised an alarm over the outbreak of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis across north-western Nigeria.
The first case of the disease was reported in Zamfara State in November 2016 but did not become a national concern until February when the NCDC said it got alerted. By then, the disease had become an epidemic affecting six states in the northern part of the country.
Since the outbreak, about 489 people are believed to have died of the disease with about 4,637 suspected cases reported across the country.
Meningitis is a condition in which the protective membrane (meninges) covering the brain and spinal cord becomes inflamed. This inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
Meningitis has occurred in different parts of the world but the highest incidence of the disease is found in the ‘meningitis belt’ of sub-Saharan Africa including Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Niger, Chad.
Though the epidemiology of meningitis is not fully understood, it is more commonly seen during the dry season, from December to June.
In this meningitis belt, until recently, the Type A strain of the bacteria was most common with attack rates sometimes reaching 1,000 cases per 100,000 population.