The number of persons who have died from Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM ) in the Upper West Region this year has increased from 18 to 33 in the last two weeks.
In all, a total of 215 cases have been recorded at various health facilities in the region.
The region has also recorded one case of COVID-19.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in an interview in Wa last Sunday, the Upper West Region Disease Control Officer, Mrs Justina Zoyah-Diedong, said the deceased were aged 11 and above.
The Jirapa Municipality has recorded 36 cases and nine deaths; Nadowli District, 65 cases with nine deaths; Nandom District, 69 cases with nine deaths; Wa Municipality, 21 cases and four deaths; Wa West Municipality with 15 cases and one death and Lawra Municipality, six cases with one death.
She described CSM as a disease that attacks a person’s central nervous system and causes inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal cord.
Mrs Zoyah-Diedong said symptoms of the disease included fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, photophobia, altered consciousness, convulsions and finally coma, leading to death.
She said the region lay in the meningitis belt which stretched across Nadowli, Jirapa, Lawra, Nandom into Burkina Faso, adding that, “because of the climatic condition in the area which is dry, very hot and dusty at this time of the year meningitis epidemics are an annual occurrence” .
She said health authorities in the region were worried because of the absence of reagents to trace the causative bacteria and allow for a remedy, such as a vaccine, to be prescribed for treatment.
Mrs Zoyah-Diedong said all the districts in the region had recorded cases of the disease which was airborne and it normally began from October, with March and April as the peak periods.
“Blood samples sent to the Public Health Reference Laboratory for testing indicated that they were dealing with Streptococcus Pneumonia which had no vaccines for adults,” she said.
Fears of more cases
According to Mrs Zoyah-Diedong, there were fears that there could be more cases recorded since the dry condition causing the spread of the disease would still prevail until the rains set in next month.
The Upper West Region Disease Control Officer advised the people to adhere to the necessary protocols, including avoiding over crowding, covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, washing hands frequently and reporting early at a health facility for diagnosis and treatment.
She said the disease would subside when the rains hopefully set in by the end of the month.