Dr Fred Adomako Boateng (right) with other dignitaries
SIX PEOPLE have died from the deadly meningococcal meningitis in the Ashanti Region since the outbreak of the infectious disease in the country at the close of last year.
The Ashanti Regional Health Directorate said the figure is among 17 suspected cases reported across 10 districts of the region, with nine confirmed as meningococcal meningitis and streptococcal pneumonia (also known as pneumococcal meningitis).
Dr Fred Adomako Boateng, deputy regional health director in-charge of Clinicals, told journalists at a news conference in Kumasi yesterday that the cases were reported within eight hospitals in the 10 districts.
He mentioned the districts as Ahafo-Ano South, Offinso Municipal, Offinso North, Ejisu-Juaben, Adansi North, Afigya-Kwabre, Ejura Sekyedumasi, Adansi South, Kumasi Metro and Atwima Nwabiagya.
According to him, Offinso Municipal and Ejisu-Juaben recorded two deaths apiece out of the six deaths, while Atwima Nwabiagya and Afigya-Kwabre recorded one each.
Included in the passed-away victims is a less than one-year-old baby boy, Dr Boateng stated, and continued that two teenagers were also among the dead, with the rest being more than 20 years.
He asserted that there has not been any history of transmission to other people among the infected persons in all reported communities, indicating that this makes the spread highly sporadic as there is no cross-border transmission from the Brong-Ahafo Region.
The deputy health director said the other three infected persons had since been treated and discharged from the hospitals.
He explained that the meningococcal disease differs from others because it is the only infection that can potentially cause an outbreak in term of time.
The deputy health director added that Ghana is among the 15 countries in the sub-Saharan Africa – from Ethiopia in the East up to Gambia in the West – that are within the meningitis belt because the disease is endemic in this area.
Dr Boateng disclosed that meningitis is recorded every day within the sub-Saharan region with a population of about 300 million.
During epidemic, he added, children and young adults are commonly affected, and asserted that the attacking rate is as much as 1,000 per a population of 100,000.
Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. It is caused by many germs, including bacteria, virus and fungi.
The health director said the bacteria, which is known as meningococcus, causes the meningitis – an infection that covers the brain and spinal cord – as well as meningococcemia (infections of the blood) and other body sites.
He disclosed that the disease is spread from person-to-person by direct contact, close contact with saliva or droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person. It can also spread through coughing, sneezing and intimate kissing.
Symptoms include high fever, nausea and vomiting, severe headache, stiffness and pains in the neck, shoulders and back as well as confusion and drowsiness, fatigue, cold hands and feet, rapid breathing, photophobia and skin rash.
Dr Alexis Nang-Beifubah, Ashanti regional health director, said his outfit has put in place measures to contain the disease.
He mentioned alert system, surveillance, monitoring and testing of suspected cases as part of the measures to deal with the current situation.
Dr Nang-Beifubah called on the general public to be on the lookout and report immediately to the nearest health facility any person suspected showing symptoms of the infectious disease.
The regional health director also urged the public to observe proper handwashing with soap and running water, and also prevent dryness of the throat by drinking a lot of water.
The first case of meningitis occurred in December 2015 in Brohani and Seikwa communities in the Tain District of the Brong Ahafo Region.
The disease has so far spread to the Ashanti, Northern and Volta regions, killing 36 people, with 183 cases recorded.
From Ernest Kofi Adu, Kumasi