Cerebrospinal meningitis is an acute inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms, and less commonly by certain drugs.
It is an air-borne disease that is most feared because it is transmittable, fatal and spreads at an extremely fast pace. It is also called Cerebrospinal fever.
In Ghana, specifically in the Upper West Region, about 214 cases of Meningitis have been recorded at some health facilities across the 11 districts while 33 deaths have been recorded.
In spite of its deadly nature, much attention has not been given to the outbreak due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, it has become a killer nobody seems to talk about in Ghana.
Presenting a statement in Parliament today, Saturday, April 4, 2020, to rally support for enhanced action, the Wa Central Legislator, Rashid Pelpuo called for the immediate application of known remedies to halt the havoc it is causing in that part of the country.
“Currently there is an infectious disease in the Wa Central Constituency as well as in the Upper West Region as a whole. I wish to call on the Ministry of Health and the government to act with dispatch in providing immediately and adequately the essential grants needed, equipment and appropriate personnel to tackle this thriving danger. This is a crucial time and especially because CSM is a very infectious disease but may be grossed over by the authorities and the people themselves given the present situation we find ourselves,” he espoused.
Meningitis can lead to serious long-term consequences such as deafness, epilepsy, hydrocephalus, or cognitive deficits, especially if not treated quickly.
In 2015, meningitis occurred in about 8.7 million people worldwide. This resulted in 379,000 deaths. In Ghana, There have been outbreaks of meningitis in the past, the most recent being in 2017 where over 60 people were put under surveillance following the death of some six students from meningitis nationwide.
In March 2020, one person died from meningitis while another was diagnosed with the disease while receiving treatment at the Bolgatanga Regional hospital in the Upper East Region.
The deceased aged 80, was diagnosed with Streptococcus Pneumonia Meningitis at the Tongo District Hospital in the Talensi District. She was later referred to the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital for higher treatment but died on Monday, March 2, 2020.
What causes meningitis?
The most common causes of meningitis are viral and bacterial infections. Other causes may include:
Some viral and bacterial meningitis are contagious. They can be transmitted by coughing, sneezing, or close contact.
What are the symptoms of meningitis?
1. Viral meningitis symptoms
Viral meningitis in infants may cause:
In adults, viral meningitis may cause:
sensitivity to bright light
nausea and vomiting
2. Bacterial meningitis symptoms
Symptoms of bacteria meningitis may include:
altered mental status
sensitivity to light
purple areas of skin that resemble bruises
Prevention and Treatment
Some forms of meningitis are preventable and treated by
Immunization with the meningococcal, mumps, pneumococcal, and Hib vaccines.
Promptly giving antibiotics and sometimes antiviral drugs.
Corticosteroids can also be used to prevent complications from excessive inflammation.