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Pneumococcal Meningitis—Prevention is better than cure

Edem AgblevorBy Edem Agblevor


Pneumococcal Meningitis, according to the Ghana Health Service, is a serious disease caused by bacteria that affects the brain and spinal cord which, if not detected and treated early, causes complications which leads to death.

 

The Pneumococcal  Meningitis virus can spread through close and prolonged contact with an infected person and through coughing, sneezing and kissing, living in crowed settings, sharing, eating as well as drinking with an affected person.


This disease takes between two to ten days to show its symptoms, some of which include neck pains, neck stiffness, convulsion and vomiting.
In as much as this disease is serious and deadly, the good news is that it can be treated with the appropriate antibiotics and that the treatment depends on how early it is reported when a person gets ill.


Most often, the attack of Pneumococcal Meningitis looks like malaria and fever which Ghanaians are used to treating at home through self-medication.
The risk of contracting Pneumococcal Meningitis through the overcrowding, close contact during sneezing and coughing, therefore,  demands that one needs to sleep in an airy environment, drink plenty of water, wash hands with soap under clean water and also cover the mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing.


There have been seasonal reports of Pneumococcal Meningitis in Ghana, usually during the dry season from October through to March, where there is relative low humidity and abundance of dust which aggravates vulnerable to meningitis infection.


Even though the disease is often common in the three Northern Regions, this time around, it has spread across the Brong Ahafo, Central Regions, with and cases in the Ashanti Region. The incidence of Pneumococcal Disease occurred in December 2015 in the Brohani and Seikwa communities in the Tain District of Brong Ahafo Region initially affecting 31 people.


Government, through the Health Ministry and the Ghana Health Service, responded using surveillance, case management, laboratory and public education while dispatching logistics such as gloves, intra-venous fluids and anti-biotics. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also been involved in the measures to control the disease by providing laboratory equipment that includes test kits for diagnosis of the disease.


The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) Atlanta has also provided for the confirmatory testing of samples as well as support in serotyping the causative organisms in the outbreak of the disease.


Indeed, it is normal for the public to be alarmed about the fast rate at which this disease is spreading and the death rate. 
It is, however, reassuring to note that government is not just sitting idly by or unconcerned, but has demonstrated commitment to containing the disease through public education.


It, therefore, behooves on the individual to be eager to know more about the disease in order to prevent it-for, after all, prevention is better than cure.

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