Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord and can be a very serious illness. It is a viral or bacterial disease in which an outside layer of the brain or spinal cord becomes infected and swollen.
One of the biggest problems of Meningitis C is that it can develop quickly. A child or adult can seem well and then, just a few hours later, be extremely ill with the disease.
Another problem is that the symptoms can be difficult to distinguish from other, less serious infections. Meningitis C can cause severe brain damage and is fatal in 50% of cases if untreated.
In 2015, there were 12,000 cases of meningitis in Niger and Nigeria and 800 deaths in the first six months of the year.
The Chief Executive Officer of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Abdulsalam Nasidi has warned that Nigeria might be at the brink of another Meningitis ‘C’ outbreak.
Especially in the North, Nasidi has warned state governors to reintroduce vaccines because that is the only way to prevent another outbreak of disease in the country. Nigerians are currently battling with Lassa Fever.
Here are three things you should know about Meningitis C
In babies and young children, Meningitis C can cause fever, vomiting, refusal to feed, a high-pitched or moaning cry and irritability.
Older children and adults may experience a severe headache, stiff neck and aversion to bright lights as well as fever and vomiting. The skin may look pale. Eventually, the person may become drowsy or unconscious.
A number of different viruses and bacteria can cause meningitis.
Viral meningitis is the most common form of the disease, but fortunately is less severe than the bacterial type. However, it can still be serious and very rarely can progress from headache, fever and drowsiness, to deep coma.
The meningococcal bacteria that causes meningitis can’t survive for long outside the body, they can only spread through prolonged, close contact. Possible ways the bacteria are spread include sneezing, coughing, kissing, sharing utensils, such as cutlery and sharing personal possessions, such as a toothbrush or cigarette.
Meningitis C Vaccine
The Men C vaccine protects against infection by meningococcal group C bacteria, which can cause two very serious illnesses, meningitis and Septicaemia.
The vaccine is a conjugate vaccine which is made by linking a tiny fragment from the bacteria’s sugar coat to a protein. Our immune systems respond more strongly to proteins than to sugars so this technique helps to trigger a longer lasting immune response.
The MenC vaccine is given at 3 months of age (along with other vaccines in the routine childhood immunisation programme). The vaccine works very well and has slashed the levels of Men C disease.