More than 313 people in the capital have been suspected to contract meningococcemia, a potentially fatal brain infection. The condition is characterized by high fever and turn out to be fatal, if not promptly attended to.
The acute brain fever is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, leading to inflammation of the blood vessels. Most commonly, the bacteria resides dormant in the upper respiratory tract, without causing any symptoms or illness. However, under certain circumstances, it can become active, leading to a sporadic incidence of meningococcemia, in the local community.
Those in close association with the affected individual such as family members and friends face an increased risk of contacting the highly infectious disease. The bacterium is transmitted through infected respiratory droplets.
The disease may be asymptomatic initially. As the infection progresses, signs of fever, red or purple rashes, anxiety and irritable behavior may be seen. If untreated, the brain may be affected, leading to altered level of consciousness and shock.
Treatment of the condition usually involves admission into the intensive care unit, followed by intensive monitoring. Intravenous fluids, antibiotic administration, breathing support and management of blood pressure may be required. The patient may also be required to be under isolation to prevent the transmission of the infection.
If untreated, it can lead to shock, bleeding disorders and kidney failure, eventually resulting in death. In some cases, the affected limbs may have to be amputated. This year, the outbreak is considered to be more severe, compared to the previous outbreak that had claimed the lives of nearly 20 people and infected 140 others.
According to official reports of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, 268 cases have been documented so far and 38 other cases are currently being investigated. In view of the above situation, it is high time that the health authorities' take appropriate steps to keep the infection under control.