Meningitis, what you should know

There is an outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis across some states in the country. Even though the federal ministry of health has advised Nigerians to remain calm as it is working to put an end to the spread of the epidemic, it is important that every Nigerian is made aware of the health risk posed by the disease.

Meningitis is a serious illness that can be life threatening. Boade Akinola the director media and public relations at the federal ministry of health said that although, “this is not the first time or the worst epidemic ever faced by Nigeria, this round of the epidemic has come with a difference, as all previous epidemics were caused by Neisseria Meningitides type ‘A’, but this year we are recording Neisseria Meningitides type C in epidemic proportion for the first time.”

More than 2,524 people have so far been affected by the Cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) outbreak, with 328 deaths recorded in ninety Local Government Councils of 16 states of the federation.

The states involved include, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Nassarawa, Jigawa, FCT, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Kano, Osun, Cross River, Lagos and Plateau.

So what is Meningitis?

Meningitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. This inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
Meningitis is usually caused by bacteria or viruses, but can be a result of injury, cancer, or certain drugs.

It is important to know the specific cause of meningitis because the treatment differs depending on the cause.


Meningitis caused by bacteria, like Streptococcus pneumoniae, group B Streptococcus, and Neisseria meningitidis can be life threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Vaccines are available to help protect against some kinds of bacterial meningitis.


Meningitis caused by viruses, like enteroviruses, arboviruses and herpes simplex viruses, is serious but often is less severe than bacterial meningitis, and people with normal immune systems usually get better on their own. There are vaccines to prevent some kinds of viral meningitis.


Fungal meningitis is caused by fungi like Cryptococcus and Histoplasma and is usually acquired by inhaling fungal spores from the environment. People with certain medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, or HIV are at higher risk of fungal meningitis.


Various parasites can cause meningitis or can affect the brain or nervous system in other ways. Overall, parasitic meningitis is much less common than viral and bacterial meningitis.


Primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is a rare and devastating infection of the brain that is caused by a free-living microscopic ameba called Naegleria fowleri which is found naturally in warm water and soil.


Sometimes meningitis is not spread from person to person, but is instead caused by cancers, systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), certain drugs, head injury, and brain surgery.

How it Spreads

Bacterial Meningitis:

Bacterial meningitis is spread from person to person. The bacteria are spread by exchanging respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit) during close (for example, coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact, especially if living in the same household.

Viral Meningitis:

If you have close contact with a person who has viral meningitis, you may become infected with the virus that made the person sick. However, you are probably not likely to develop meningitis from the illness. That’s because only a small number of people who get infected with the viruses that cause meningitis will actually develop meningitis.

Possible Symptoms Include:

Fever, Drowsiness, Headache,Intense dislike to light, Neck stiffness Malaise, Nausea, Vomiting, Muscle aches and pains, Rash or spots         

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