“Liberia’s mystery disease is possibly a meningitis outbreak” – Health Minister


Recently, Liberians are battling with a mysterious disease that has claimed some lives. Liberia’s health minister disclosed on Monday (May 8, 2017) that the deadly mystery disease that has so far claimed some thirteen lives in the country could be linked to meningitis after medical samples from four victims tested positive for a type of the disease.

Dr. Bernice Dahn confirmed that seven specimens from the deceased tested positive for Neisseria meningitis, a particularly contagious type of bacteria. This is a cause for alarm as the cure is no where close to reach.

Meningitis is an infections disease characterized by inflammation of the meninges (the tissues that surround the brain and spinal cord). It is usually caused by a bacterial infection, symptoms include headache, stiff neck, fever and nausea.

“Based on these initial results from the CDC Atlanta (U.S. Center for Disease Control), we believe that we are dealing with a probable outbreak of meningitis in Sinoe, which spread to Montserrado and Grand Bassa counties,” she added, stating that the people should be calm with the situation.

To further reassure the people that the situation is under control, she said:

“The authorities are, however, investigating options for mass vaccinations against the illness, characterized by swelling of the membranes in the brain and spinal cord. Further laboratory analysis is under way.”

The total of 31 cases of people affected by the disease has been reported, including 13 deaths in an outbreak linked to the attendance of a religious leader’s funeral. Liberia’s chief medical officer, Dr. Francis Kateh, explained to the BBC two weeks ago that the deaths were not Ebola-related from initial test results. However, it has been confirmed that the country battles with meningitis instead. It was the sudden deaths that sparked fears making the people believe that the disease has returned which paralyzed the country in 2013.

However, Liberia was declared free of Ebola by the World Health Organization (WHO) in June 2016. When Ebola broke out in 2014 it killed an estimated 5,000 people and almost shut down the country. The thought of it coming back will definitely pose deep fear.

At that time, Liberia was the last West African country at the epicentre of the world’s worst outbreak of the disease. The Neighbouring countries; Guinea and Sierra Leone also suffered from the outbreak.

At present, Liberians live in fear for meningitis. The thought of it escalating like Ebola has made people more fearful. However, the government and the health sector are on the top of their game to put an end the mysterious disease. The government urges its citizens to be calm stating that a lasting solution will be provided really soon.

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