One of four people affected by Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) in the Nandom district of the Upper West region has died.
The disease is an acute inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms, and less commonly by certain drugs. Meningitis can be life-threatening because of the inflammation's proximity to the brain and spinal cord; therefore, the condition is classified as a medical emergency.
The four cases in Nandom were recorded within the past two weeks.
The outbreak follows an earlier warning by the Ghana Meteorological Agency of a possible CSM outbreak due to harsh harmattan conditions at the beginning of the year.
CSM breaks out in the northern part of Ghana almost every year.
According to netdoctor.co.uk, in babies and young children meningitis can cause fever, vomiting, refusal to feed, a high-pitched or moaning cry and irritability.
Babies may also develop a tense or bulging fontanelle (the soft spot on the top of the baby's head), blotchy or pale skin, rapid breathing, a floppy body or stiffness with jerky movements.
Older children and adults may experience a severe headache, stiff neck and aversion to bright lights as well as fever and vomiting. Eventually, the person may become drowsy or unconscious.
If septicaemia (blood poisoning) is also present a rash may develop that starts off looking like tiny red pinpricks. Later, the rash changes to purplish red blotches. If you press on the rash with a glass tumbler, the spots will not fade.
Older children and adults with septicaemia may complain of cold hands and feet, aching muscles and joints, and stomach pain (sometimes with diarrhoea).
Research has found that key early warning signs of meningitis and septicaemia in children under 17 years old often include cold hands and feet, abnormal skin colour, and leg pains.
These symptoms often occur hours before other classic symptoms, such as a rash and dislike of bright light.
Septicaemia is a medical emergency that requires urgent treatment with antibiotics. If your child has these early warning signs and you suspect they have septicaemia or meningitis, do not wait for a rash to appear but seek medical advice immediately.