Meningitis Outbreak in KEBBI State: WHO moves to halt further fatalities.

WHO State coordinator presenting oily chloramphenicol to the Kebbi State Commissioner of Health.
WHO State coordinator presenting oily chloramphenicol to the Kebbi State Commissioner of Health.

Since the beginning of the year 2014, Kebbi State in North Western Nigeria has been experiencing an outbreak of Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis (CSM). Laboratory tests have shown that the Neisseria meningitides Type C serogroup is circulating. As of week 12, 2014, a total of 288 cases reported with 43 death (Case Fatality Rate, CFR=14.9); 36 cases have been confirmed positive, notably in Jega, Aliero, Gwandu, Augie, Suru and Zuru LGAs.

Given the stark realities of the afore-mentioned epidemiological profile, the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office promptly supplied Lumbar puncture kits and laboratory reagents/supplies for prompt diagnosis to guide treatment.  In addition, WHO also delivered 1000 vials of Oily chloramphenicol which are pre-positioned in Medicine Sans Frontiers (MSF) camps in the referral General Hospitals of the affected LGAs to support the ongoing management of new cases

Receiving the donation from the WHO State coordinator Dr, Audu Musa Idowu, the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Shehu Aliyu Sambawa pronounced that ‘we are so grateful to WHO for this great support coming at this very critical period’ and assured that, ‘the drugs would be utilized as planned but with serious monitoring for accountability’. The Commissioner equally used the occasion to appeal to other partners to support the state in order to effectively halt the outbreak and further fatalities.

Meanwhile, WHO staff at the State level have been supporting the State team in the investigation of the outbreaks, shipment of CSF samples to the laboratory, clinician sensitization and dissemination of key messages on prevention

In the same vein, Kebbi state conducted a reactive vaccination in selected settlements with 20,000 doses of ACW polysaccharide vaccines received from National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) in addition to the intensification of Cerebro-spinal Fluid (CSF) sample collection from suspected cases for testing by the State Public Health Laboratory/MSF.

It could be recalled that Kebbi, alongside 7 other states conducted the MenAfrivac campaign in November 2013 against Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A which is the commonest cause of CSM outbreak in Africa. What is noteworthy is the fact that, due to the successful campaign, none of the reported cases in 2014 are due to Neisseria meningitides serogroup A.

WHO and other partners which include Rotary International, UNICEF and MSF, have pledged their continued support to the State through provision of technical assistance and intensification of  house-to-house surveillance.