The European Civil Protection Humanitarian Operation (ECHO) has confirmed increasing cases of meningitis in Tshopo province, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Confirmatory tests carried out by the Institut Pasteur in Paris officially declared on Tuesday, Sept. 7 with 233 suspected cases and 126 deaths detected Neisseria meningitidis – one of the most frequent types of bacterial meningitis with the potential to cause large epidemics and is transmitted through respiratory droplet (cough or sneeze).
ECHCO is working in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and DRC authorities. According to the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations daily flash, the epidemic was last experienced in Tshopo province in 2009.
Since then, actions by ECHO have been implemented including passive surveillance as part of an integrated disease surveillance with almost 1.6 million people vaccinated against meningitis in the province in 2016.
Currently, the daily flash report states that the affected health zone of Banalia is very remote due to poor road conditions and hard-to-reach terrain. The health authorities have deployed an initial emergency team, and with the support of the WHO, efforts are underway to quickly ramp up the response.
A crisis response committee has been set up in Banalia, the community affected by the outbreak, as well as in Kisangani, the capital of Tshopo, to accelerate the outbreak control efforts.
WHO has provided medical supplies in Banalia and plans to deploy more experts and resources. The global health body said more than 100 patients are receiving treatment at home and in health centers in Banalia, the community affected by the outbreak.
“Meningitis is a serious infection and a major public health challenge. We are moving fast, delivering medicines and deploying experts to support the government’s efforts to bring the outbreak under control in the shortest possible time,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
The DRC is prone to epidemics and is currently dealing with outbreaks of measles, yellow fever, cholera, monkeypox, typhoid fever, pneumonic plague as well as COVID-19.
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