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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Meningitis in Nigeria

27 Mar 2017

On the 24 March 2017 the World Health Organisation (WHO) reportedLink that as of the 19 March 2017 a total of 1407 suspected cases on meningitis and 211 deaths have been reported in Nigeria from December 2016.

Cases have been reported from 40 local government areas (LGAs) in five states of Nigeria; Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto account for 89% of these cases. Three of these LGAs share borders with Niger. Approximately half of the reported cases are in the age group 5 to 14 years old, both sexes are equally affected.

The Nigeria Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with support from WHO, is coordinating the response at national level. Public health interventions include rapid response teams which are involved in active case finding and training local staff on case management, and mass vaccination campaigns.

Advice for Travellers

Spread through airborne droplets and direct contact with nasal/pharyngeal secretions of infected individuals or carriers. Meningococcal disease is found worldwide but epidemics may occur in this country, which lies within the extended meningitis belt of Africa, particularly during the dry season. Respiratory infections are often difficult to prevent but following basic personal hygiene etiquette when coughing and sneezing can help. Avoiding overcrowded areas such as busy markets and local transport may also reduce risk of exposure but may not always be practical.

Vaccines to protect against multiple strains of meningococcal meningitis for travellers are available: Menveo and Nimenrix. Individuals should consider being vaccinated if they are travelling to a country where meningococcal meningitis is present and where their stay maybe prolonged or they are involved in activities which may increase the risk of exposure to the disease, for example, working in a healthcare setting and living closely with the local population.