No meningitis case in UAE this summer

ABU DHABI - With rumours rife over the risk of developing meningitis during summer, a medical expert assured yesterday that there was not a single case reported in UAE since beginning of summer.

By Nada S. Mussallam

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Published: Sat 2 Aug 2003, 8:07 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 10:07 PM

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Dr Al Sayed Mohammed Bilasy, Director of the Preventive Medicine Department said people need not worry, adding that the talk about reported cases during summer was just rumours, though mercury reached its highs this year.

Medically termed as 'Meningococcal meningitis', meningitis, which is characterised by causing major epidemics in many parts of the world occurs sporadically in the UAE, he said.

Quoting a report, he said in 2000, 22 cases were reported in the country.

The disease transmits by airborne droplets and direct contact with infected persons. However, infection is usually limited to subclinical nasopharyngitis and systematic disease is considered exceptional, according to the report.

It has been estimated that nasopharyngeal carriage rate ranges from two to five per cent but may be as high as 70 to 80 per cent in areas where epidemics occur frequently.

The report mentioned that the infection might progress to bacteria and systemic invasive disease with typical meningeal involvement after an incubation period of two to 10 years.

Early diagnosis and surveillance are decisive factors for timely action to prevent the spread of the disease in the community, said the report.

It said that Haemophilus Influenza HI, is the causative agent of a number of invasive infections, which include meningitis, pneumonia, epiglottitis, cellulites and aseptic arthritis.

HI (B) or Hib disease, which occurs all over the world has been estimated at 30-50 cases per 100,000 children below five years in the UAE, said the report.

Vaccination against the disease was introduced in the National Immunisation Programme in 1999 and 92 per cent coverage of three doses has been achieved since then.

Five cases with incidence rate IR of 0.2/100,0000 population were reported in the country in 2000 compared to 14 and 20 cases with IR 1.7 and 0.5 per 100,0000 population reported respectively in 1998 and 1999, said the report.

The Ministry of Health has decided to upgrade the reporting system of Hib disease by adopting a more standardised system of diagnosing, said the report.

It has also developed a national plan to control the spread of the disease, aimed at reducing the occurrence of the epidemic among children less than five years to less than 10 per 100,000 children by the year 2005.

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