By Rafiu Ajakaye
The death toll from Nigeria's meningitis outbreak has risen to 438, up from 336 earlier in the week, according to the West African country’s center for disease control.
The center said in a statement Saturday that the death toll is 11 percent of all the cases so far reported across 19 of Nigeria's 36 states and the capital Abuja.
“As on April 5, 2016, 3,959 suspected cases have been reported as part of the current outbreak, of which 181 cases have been laboratory-confirmed,” John Oladejo, incident director at the center, said in a statement.
“A total of 438 deaths (11 percent of all cases) have been reported from 106 LGAs (local government areas) in 19 states in the country, and outbreak response and control activities are ongoing in the states to curtail the outbreak,” he added.
Meningitis is the swelling of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges, and is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
The most common symptoms of the highly contagious disease are fever, headache and neck stiffness.
The center said meningitis is airborne, and can also be contacted through respiratory secretions, urging people to ensure proper ventilation and maintain good personal hygiene.
Only 33 deaths were reported in 2016 outbreak of the disease, while 131 died of it in 2015 across 28 states and Abuja.
Nigeria falls in what is known as meningitis belt in sub-Saharan Africa.