Published Date: 2009-05-09 15:00:05
Subject: PRO/EDR> Meningitis, meningococcal - Nigeria (03)
Archive Number: 20090509.1731
MENINGITIS, MENINGOCOCCAL - NIGERIA (03)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Thu May 7 2009
Source: Reuters [edited]
A meningitis outbreak in Nigeria is more serious than initially
feared with the death toll rising more than 6-fold over the past 2
months, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
Deaths from the epidemic have risen to 2148 since the 1st case was
recorded in December  from 333, announced by the health
minister in early March . The number of reported cases has
climbed more than 8-fold to 47 902 over the same period. About 2-3rds
of Nigeria's 36 states are affected by the epidemic, the ministry
said. Nigeria is Africa's most populous country with a population of
more than 140 million.
UNICEF said last month [April 2009] that more than 2500 people had
been killed by meningitis this year in West and Central Africa in
what could be the worst epidemic for 5 years. Nigeria, Niger, Burkina
Faso and Chad are considered Africa's high-risk zone.
Meningitis is the inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain
and spinal cord, and can be caused by viral or bacterial infections.
It spreads mainly through kisses, sneezes, coughs and in close living quarters.
The meningitis death toll in Nigeria since December  is almost
50 times the number of people killed worldwide by the H1N1 swine flu
virus. But the speed with which it has spread underscores the
potential dangers if swine flu reaches Africa. Basic healthcare is
limited in rural parts of Nigeria, where most people live on less
than USD 2.00 a day, despite the country's huge oil resources. Many
Nigerians fear that an outbreak of swine flu would be devastating.
The Health Ministry said no suspected case of swine flu had been
recorded in the country but that it had taken steps to contain any outbreak.
The worst recent meningitis epidemic in West and Central Africa
occurred in 1996-97 when an estimated 100 000 people were infected in
Nigeria and 50 000 in Niger.
[Byline: Camillus Eboh, Tume Ahemba, and Nick Tattersall]
ProMED Rapporteur Brent Barrett
[Numerous cases of meningococcal meningitis are reported in the
African region known as the "Meningitis Belt" each year during the
dry season, between December and June, and every 8-12 years large
"Meningitis Belt" extends from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia and
Eritrea in the east, and includes Nigeria
Nigeria seems to have been hit hardest by the outbreak this year. WHO
reported on 11 Mar 2009 that in Nigeria there were 9086 cases with
562 deaths from meningococcal meningitis (see ProMED post Meningitis,
bacterial - Africa (02): Nigeria, WHO meningitis region
20090313.1038) and that both serogroup A and W135 were involved. The
number of cases of meningococcal meningitis in Nigeria have now
increased 5-fold and the number of deaths, 3.8-fold.
The HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of Nigeria is available at
A map of the African bacterial meningitis belt can be found at
<http://www.medic8.com/images/map4-9.gif>. - Mod.ML]