#GhanaGist: What is Meningitis? Learn more about it!

Meningitis is a serious disease that affects the sheaths coverings the brain and spinal cord.

It must be treated early to avoid severe complications and death. Bacterial meningitis is the type of most concern In Ghana.

WHY SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT BACTERIAL MENINGITIS?

A number of people have suffered from the disease in some of the regions in Ghana with reported deaths.

WHERE IS MENINGITIS COMMON IN GHANA?
The Meningitis that tends to cause outbreak is common in the three northern regions of Ghana (Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions), but most of the people in these regions have been vaccinated against that disease.

There are however other types of meningitis that every part of Ghana is at risk, do not cause extensive outbreak but can kill quickly if not taken to hospital early..

HOW DOES BACTERIAL MENINGITIS SPREAD?
Bacterial meningitis is spread when a person suffering from the disease passes it on to another persons in close contact through coughing, sneezing or kissing and the spread usually increases in dry and dusty conditions, particularly during the harmattan period

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR INFECTED PERSON TO SHOW THE DISEASE?
It takes between 2 and 10 days for the affected person to complain about ill-health (show symptoms)

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF THE DISEASE?
Meningitis is suspected if anyone who has fever and headache also has any of the following:
· Neck pain and Neck stiffness
· Convulsions
· Confusion (Inability to think and act)
· Vomiting
· Sudden unexplained death
· In children: Bulging of the anterior fontanelle

IS THERE TREATMENT FOR BACTERIAL MENINGITIS?
Yes, antibiotics are used to treat this condition. Treatment success depends on how early you report when you are ill. The key to stopping an outbreak is public education to encourage members of the public to report to health facilities early to get treatment if they are ill.

ARE THERE VACCINES FOR MENINGITIS?
There are vaccines for certain types of meningitis but not all can be used in outbreak situations.

HOW DOES ONE REDUCE THE RISK OF GETTING BACTERIAL MENINGITIS?
· Drink plenty of water
· Avoid overcrowded areas
· Make sure your doors and windows are open
· Sleep in rooms with sufficient air passing through
· Frequently wash your hands with soap and water
· Cover mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
· Report to the nearest health facility if you have fever, headache and neck pain

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOU OR ANYONE HAS MENINGITIS?
Report quickly to the nearest health facility. Do not self-medicate

WHAT IS THE COST OF TREATMENT?
Treatment of meningitis in an outbreak is FREE at public health facilities

ISSUED BY THE GHANA HEALTH SERVICE
Meningitis

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