It has emerged that there is no vaccine for the strain of bacteria that has caused an outbreak of meningitis in the Upper West Region.
Of the 409 persons who have since February this year contracted the life-threatening disease in the five northern regions, 258 are from the Upper West Region. As at April 15, 40 deaths representing a 15 per cent fatality rate, has been recorded.
Meningitis is an acute febrile illness which affects the brain and spinal cord. It is characterised by fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness, altered consciousness, convulsion, seizures and coma.
The disease is endemic in the northern part of Ghana which falls within the meningitis belt of Africa
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) says the current outbreak in the Upper West Region is caused mainly by a new strain of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis serotype X as well as streptococcus pneumonia, which it said has an average 40 per cent fatality rate.
The new strain, it said in a statement Friday, “has no vaccine”
“Though there is no vaccine for the strain causing this current outbreak, effective treatment is available,” the statement signed by the Director-General of GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye assured.
In a bid to contain the outbreak, the Ghana Health Service, said it has provided 7,500 vials of ceftriaxone, the appropriate antibiotic, for management of meningitis.
Also, rapid response teams have been deployed to the various health facilities and communities to undertake case search and support case management.
The Head of Disease Control is leading a team of experts to the Upper West region to provide technical assistance and support the region to intensify its response.
Public education on symptoms and signs as well as the need to report suspected cases early has been intensified.
The GHS underscored the need for people to ensure early reporting of meningitis cases for “initiation of treatment that can significantly improve outcome and improve survival rate”.
It assured the people in the affected regions, particularly those in the Upper West region that health professionals “remain committed to bring this outbreak under control”.