Fresh Outbreak Of CMS - 17 Dead in Upper West 2010-02-23 A strange form of the deadly cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) has killed 17 people and caused the hospitalisation of 78 others in the Upper West Region, with the Jirapa District being the worst hit.
In Jirapa alone, the disease, which experts say has gone beyond the epidemic threshold to become an outbreak, has killed eight people out of the 52 reported cases.
The situation has overwhelmed health workers in the region and at the national secretariat of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) due to the fact that the bacterium causing the current outbreak is a new strain, the W135, which is being seen in Ghana for the first time.
Fresh Outbreak Of CMS - 17 Dead in Upper West
After a marathon meeting in Accra yesterday involving the top hierarchy of the GHS and other health professionals, the Director-General of the GHS, Dr Elias Kavinah Sory, told the Daily Graphic that “because the bacterium is new, we do not readily have the required vaccine to contain it”.
He added, however, that the vaccine, which is expensive, could be made available through the World Health Organisation (WHO), hence the Ministry of Health (MoH), the GHS and the WHO were meeting to see how best to get the vaccine into the country.
According to him, when arrangements were concluded, the vaccine would be available within 48 hours. Dr Sory said as soon as the vaccine was available, every one within a determined radius of the area affected would be vaccinated, while the affected people continued to receive treatment.
He said when the infection started about six weeks ago, there were fewer cases reported but within the past two weeks it had gone beyond the epidemic threshold to become an outbreak.
He said, however, that Ghana had enough stock of the vaccine it had always used to contain previous epidemics and late last year it was made available to the areas normally affected by CSM.
The director-general stated that the outbreak was determined during a monitoring exercise and the GHS had since moved to contain the situation.
He stated that doctors in the affected area had been advised to undertake the right investigations and administer the right vaccine when they got cases.
The last time the country had an outbreak with fatalities was in 1999/2000. Meningitis mainly occurs in northern Ghana following the long, hot dry months.
Risk factors include household overcrowding, smoking and exposure to smoke and close contact with an affected person.