Mossel Bay residents have been urged by the Western Cape health department not to panic after a reported outbreak of viral meningitis in the Garden Route town.
According to news24, the department’s spokesperson Marika Champion said on Thursday that the disease is contained to the Mossel Bay area and is being monitored daily.
“I can confirm that a number of cases have been reported, but we can’t give the number of cases as they are not all reported at our healthcare facilities.” Champion said.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, it occurs when the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, called the meninges, become inflamed.
The disease usually comes in various forms: The Bacteria meningitis (caused by caused by bacteria such as streptococcus, TB or E-coli), fungal meningitis (caused by the spread of a fungus through blood to the spinal cord), Viral meningitis (the most common type of meningitis which usually affects children or people with immune system), Parasitic Meningitis (caused by a parasite called Primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) which enters the body through the nose) and Noninfectious meningitis ( the type that is not spread from person to person. Non-infectious meningitis can be caused by cancers and other issues like drugs.
Currently, report has it that at least nine children and an adult are believed to have contracted the disease and the cases were reported between December 1 and January 24. All have been treated successfully and no deaths have been reported.
On this, Champion made it clear to the public that it is “a viral meningitis, not the lethal meningitis, the majority of cases are not even hospitalized. There is no cause for panic at the moment”.
Common Symptoms of Viral Meningitis
As a disease that affects mainly infants younger than 1 month old and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness, the disease is said to be less severe to the bacterial meningitis. Speaking of the common symptoms that is associated with it, they include headache, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite and lethargy.
In addition to this, though patients who have disease could possibly recover on their own without medical help, there are some signs that signals danger and need medical attention. These signs include loss of consciousness, fits (seizures), muscle weakness, or a rash consisting of dark, red discolorations all over the body.
We should know that Viral meningitis is contagious, because the viruses that cause the disease are generally easily passed between people.Therefore we must be hygiene conscious. Regular hand washing with soap and water) and good personal hygiene helps to prevent infection with many viruses including enteroviruses.
This means we must wash our hands with soap and water after using the toilet, before preparing food, and after sneezing and coughing. Regular hand washing must therefore be encouraged in in schools and various other contact areas.