ABUJA (Reuters) - A meningitis outbreak in Nigeria has killed 813 people so far this year, the country’s health minister said, as Africa’s most populous country and aid organizations attempt to tackle the surge in infections.
The government on Wednesday approved a house-to-house search in northern Nigeria to identify those afflicted with meningitis for vaccination and treatment, Isaac Adewole told reporters after a cabinet meeting under vice president Yemi Osinbajo.
The West African nation in April launched a mass vaccination campaign as part of its emergency response to the outbreak in its northwestern states, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said.
The NCDC said the infection killed 33 people in 2016.
More than 2,000 people died from an outbreak of the disease in Nigeria in 2009, with basic healthcare limited in rural parts of the country, where most people live on less than $2 a day, despite the country’s huge oil resources.
Meningitis is the inflammation of tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord which can be caused by viral or bacterial infections. It spreads mainly through kisses, sneezes, coughs and in close living quarters.
The NCDC is working with the World Health Organisation, the U.N’s Children’s Fund and Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, to try to control the outbreak.
Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Ken Ferris