Lagos state government denies that the epidemic meningitis disease has killed two residents

The Lagos state government has denied reports that two persons were recently killed by the epidemic Cerebro Spinal Meningitis disease that has claimed over 400 lives. The Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC) on Friday released a statement claiming that three residents of the state had contacted the disease and that two of such persons have died from complications from the disease(Read here).

The Lagos state Ministry of Health has however refuted this claim, stating that there is no truth to it. In a statement released by the Ministry’s director, public affairs, Adeola Salako, the state Commissioner of Health, Jide Idris says  the report was false and capable of causing undue panic. According to Idris, the cases of Meningitis recorded in the state are the non-epidemic ones which is different from the strain of the disease that has killed over 400 persons in some states.

“The report is untrue and does not represent the reality of the situation in Lagos state as at today. For the avoidance of doubt, there are two main types of meningitis. The epidemic prone meningitis, which is referred to as cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM), is caused by a bacteria called neisseria meningitides. Its occurrence is seasonal or cyclical, depending on the level of herd immunity and climatic conditions. The second type of meningitis is non-epidemic meningitis, which is usually caused by a virus or other bacteria, but not by neisseria meningitides. The non-epidemic meningitis occurs without any seasonal pattern or periodicity.”

According to Idris, a disease surveillance notification officer in the Lagos Island local government, reported nine suspected cases of meningitis from Massey Street Children Hospital with two deaths in March this year. He said, however, that none of these was confirmed as due to CSM.

“Although, all the nine cases presented with clinical features of meningitis at that hospital, laboratory tests proved that they were either due to Haemophilus influenza or Streptococcus pneumoniae and not Neisseria meningitides. The ministry was also notified last week of a three-year-old boy, presenting clinically as meningitis at a registered private facility in Lagos, but the laboratory investigations did not confirm CSM. The blood culture yielded no growth but the urine culture yielded Klebsiella and not meningococcus; the patient is already responding to treatment. None of these cases, presented with a history of recent travel to any area with an outbreak of meningitis and neither were visits from such areas recorded with the aforementioned cases.’’

The commissioner urged all residents of the state to maintain a high level of hygiene during this period of the outbreak. According to him, such hygiene measures should include washing of hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly.

“Also, avoid direct contact with the discharges from an infected person and covering of mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. It is strongly advised that people should avoid overcrowding in living quarters, provide cross ventilation in sleeping and work-rooms and other places where many people come together. People should get vaccinated with CSM vaccine when they travel to areas where meningitis outbreaks have been reported’’ he said

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