At least 28 deaths in meningitis outbreak in Eastern Equatoria

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[Torit, South Sudan,TCT] – At least 28 deaths due to meningitis have been recorded in South Sudan’s former Eastern Equatoria state, an expert says. Another 107 suspected cases are reported.

[Torit, South Sudan,TCT] – At least 28 deaths due to meningitis have been recorded in South Sudan’s former Eastern Equatoria state, an expert says. Another 107 suspected cases are reported.

Dr. Ramadan Otim, a World Health Organization technical officer, told TCT by phone on Wednesday that Lyire and Imurok payams in Torit county in Imatong state have seen an ‘exponential rise’ in cases during a hotspell projected to go on for another 4-8 weeks.

“As of yesterday, we have registered 28 deaths with 107 more suspected cases in Lyire and Imurok Payams in Torit County, giving a case fatality of 26 percent beyond WHO standard for optimal control,” Otim said.

The expert said more alerts have been received in the last 24 hours and these are being investigated by the response teams and vetted against the standard case definition for meningitis. “These conditions favor the transmission of epidemic meningitis,” he said.

Dr. Mathew Tut, Director of Integrated Diseases Surveillance and Response in the Ministry of Health also told TCT by phone that the ministry has been notified by the county health department about the deaths and cases. He said insecurity on the roads between Torit and Lyire and a lack of functioning health facilities have constrained access and slowed the response.

Tut noted, “The recent exponential rise in cases in Torit County resulted in a weekly attack rate that surpassed the meningitis epidemic threshold in week 9.”

He cautioned that the disease could spread to neighboring counties, especially Magwi and Ikotos.

He added that at least 33 volunteers in emergency teams have been deployed to conduct active search in the health facilities and affected communities.

South Sudan is at the tail end of the meningitis season and Torit is one of the high-risk areas. The last meningitis outbreak in South Sudan was declared in May 2013 in Malakal.

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