Upper East records seven deaths from Cerebrospinal Meningitis

Dr Winfred Ofosu, Director of Health, Upper East Region

Seven people have been confirmed dead from Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) in the Upper East Region.

Out of 71 suspected cases reported in the region this year, between January and April 2020, 21 persons were tested and confirmed positive of Meningitis with seven succumbing to the disease while the other persons are still receiving treatment.

According to the Upper East Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Winfred Ofosu explained that, though the cases have been sporadic, there are enough antibiotics to treat affected persons who report to the hospital on time.

“So far, from January to date, we have 71 suspected meningitis cases. About 21 have been confirmed positive and we have recorded seven deaths…For the confirmed cases, we have enough antibiotics to treat them,” he said.

Dr Ofosu also said the region was not in an epidemic situation and hence there is no need for vaccination.

“We haven’t reached a point where we will need vaccines. We use vaccines when we get the outbreak in clusters but the outbreak, we are seeing now is sporadic so, we have not reached the epidemic level… When an area reaches an epidemic level for two consecutive weeks, then we have to mobilize vaccines to vaccinate that particular area,” he added.

Dr Ofosu cautioned residents with meningitis-related symptoms to quickly report to the nearest health facility for urgent medical care.

“Anyone with sudden headache, cold or stiffness of the neck should report to the nearest health care facility for us to assess and treat the person because meningitis kills so fast, faster than COVID-19,” he appealed.

The Upper East Region lies within the meningitis-prone belt of Africa and usually predominant between January and May every year.

Residents are advised to drink a lot of water, sleep in well-ventilated rooms, avoid overcrowding and observe good personal hygiene.

Upper West with high meningitis deaths

The Upper West region has also recorded about 40 deaths from the disease out of the about 258 confirmed cases in the region with over 400 CSM cases recorded in the regions up north.

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) in the region recently attributed the challenges with tackling the disease to the lack of adequate financial resources.

A team of experts on Thursday, April 16, 2020, were dispatched to the region to help fight the increasing numbers of Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) cases.

The region has already commenced an audit of the CSM deaths to enable the Ghana Health Service to review the treatment protocols.

No known vaccine for the new strain of meningitis

Meanwhile, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has disclosed that the current outbreak of Meningitis in the Upper West Region is caused by a new strain of bacteria that has no vaccine.

“The current outbreak in the Upper West Region is caused mainly by a new strain of bacteria; Neisseria meningitides serotype X, which has no vaccine and Streptococcus pneumonia which has an average case fatality of 40%,” it said.

It is unclear if the same strain in the Upper West region is what is being experienced in the Upper East region.

However, the Ghana Health Service has assured that there is an effective treatment upon early reporting.