Meningitis outbreak kills over 200 in Nigeria

An outbreak of Meningitis has killed over 200 people in Nigeria, according to the country’s Centre for Disease Control.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Viral infections are the most common cause of meningitis, followed by bacterial infections.

As of Monday, 1,828 suspected cases of meningitis were reported with 269 deaths in 15 of the West African country’s 36 states, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said on Twitter.

The current outbreak is the worst the country has experienced since 2009 when at least 156 people died.

On Wednesday, the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) confirmed that meningitis had killed not less than four children in Durumi-Garki, a suburb of Abuja, the Nigerian capital city.

The NCDC said it was working with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the U.N. Children’s Fund and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, to try to control the outbreak.

Nigeria lies on the meningitis belt, which stretches from the Sahel region to the Horn of Africa, where outbreaks occur regularly.

Sub-Saharan Africa has been plagued by large epidemics of meningitis for decades. Epidemics typically occur in the dry season (December to June), and an epidemic wave can last two to three years, dying out during the intervening rainy seasons.