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Meningitis outbreak in S. Sudan’s Upper Nile

April 30, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s Ministry of Health has declared an outbreak of Meningitis in Upper Nile state, after the disease reportedly killed two people in its Malakal county.

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At least 38 suspected cases, the ministry said in a release, have so far been recorded since the first patient was admitted to Malakal teaching hospital on 15 April.

The worst affected patients, it added, are between the ages 18-20 years.

“The State Ministry of Health has so far collected 11 CSF [Cerebrospinal fluid] samples, these were tested and 8 of them tested positive for Neisseria Meningitis sero group A using latex agglutination testing (Pastorex rapid test),” partly reads the release, signed by Kariom Makur, the ministry’s undersecretary.

Meningitis bacteria, according to the Health Ministry, are transmitted from one person to another through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions. The most common symptoms of the disease are stiff neck, high fever, confusion, headaches and vomiting, among others.

The ministry, in February last year, declared the young nation, which lies in Africa’s Meningitis belt, free from the bacterial disease.

Meanwhile, the health ministry said it undertook several activities to contain the disease outbreak. These include;

  • Reactivation of national and state epidemic task forces to coordinate the intervention response
  • Surveillance has been heightened at facility and community level
  • Case management and laboratory capacity enhanced through training and deployment of technical officers from Juba
  • Drugs and laboratory supplies have been provided and transported to Malakal
  • The Ministry of Health together with health partners plan to conduct mass meningitis vaccination campaign, targeting over 260,000 people living in Malakal county and surrounding payams [districts].