A deadly disease that has been sweeping through Liberia is now being positively identified as a bacterial strain of meningitis. Medical samples taken from four of the 31 cases thought to be infected indicate that this disease is indeed the culprit behind the Liberia mystery illness.
Liberia Mystery Illness Reported 31 Cases
So far, 31 cases have been reported, 13 of which were fatal. This outbreak appears to revolve around the funeral for one of Liberia’s religious leaders. Most of the patients attended this event. It is not so uncommon for an illness to spread through West African countries following burials. This has previously been the case with Ebola.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Center for Disease Control, Dr. Bernice Dahn, confirmed Monday that seven samples taken from the deceased tested positive for Neisseria meningitidis. This horrific and sometimes fatal disease spreads through physical contact. It induces symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, sudden fever, nausea, vomiting, and an increased sensitivity to light.
Also known as meningococcus, Neisseria meningitides is highly contagious. According to the WHO or World Health Organization, it can be fatal in around 50% cases if left untreated. Its transmission occurs through prolonged and close contact with infected people. WHO also points out that the meningococcus affects the spinal cord brain membrane.
Just this March, a deadly outbreak of this disease swept through Nigeria. This resulted in 1,966 potential reported cases and a devastating 282 fatalities throughout 15 of Nigeria’s 36 states. The Nigeria meningitis outbreak alone created about eight times more casualties than the country suffered throughout all of 2016.
The Liberia mystery illness has spread from Sinoe into Grand Bassa and Montserrado counties. Dr.Dahn advises residents of these areas to remain calm and assures the public that the government is working to find the best vaccination option. However, since the disease is contracted through social contact, many in Liberia fear that the disease will do as much – or worse – damage as it did in Nigeria just a few months ago.
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