Dr Humphrey Okoroukwu, a public health expert, has advised Nigerians to live in ventilated environment during hot seasons to prevent Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM).

Okoroukwu, who is the Deputy Director Public Health, Health and Human Services in the FCT, gave the advice in an interview on Thursday in Abuja.

He identified meningitis as one of the diseases that is associated with hot weather and normally occurred between November and March or April annually.

He said that there is an ongoing mass vaccination against the disease in the territory.

He explained that other non-communicable diseases associated with the weather are measles, heatstroke (collapse) and burns which normally affect albinos, among others.

“Ventilation is key, keeping the environment clean is very important and prompt visit to the hospital, access the facilities being provided like vaccination which is ongoing.

“People should avail themselves of the ongoing opportunity.

“There are some people who are healthy carriers of the disease, they spread it, they look healthy, but they do not know they have it,’’ he explained.

Okoroukwu explained that the disease has incubation period of three to four days or rather two to 10 days as the case may be.

The director identified the signs and symptoms as similar to malaria, saying such signs include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting.

According to him, meningitis signs are high irritability, reacting to light, stiffness of the neck at the latter stage.

Okoroukwu noted that though research has proven that everybody is at risk of the disease considering their environment, however emphasised that age one to 29 are mostly at risk of the disease.

He however urged the public to report to the nearest hospital on noticing any health challenge during this period.

“There are basic things you need to do to prevent or control the disease.

“One of such is environmental measure which has to do with ensuring ventilation especially in crowded areas like slums where the living condition is really poor.

“Initial presentation at the onset look like malaria, it comes with headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, while at the later stage it comes with neck stiffness, reacting to light and restlessness, among others.

“So ventilation is key, of course it is very important that people report to hospitals rather than saying is malaria, typhoid and all that,’’ he cautioned.

Okoroukwu said the case history of three out of the four children that died at the Durumi 1, a suburb of FCT last week, fits into the case definition of meningitis.

He however said that medically, no case of the disease has been confirmed in FCT because they were not able to collect samples to confirm that they actually died of the disease.

According to him, the children were already buried before they could get to the scene of the incidence.

He said the FCT authority prior the season, has embarked on sensitisation of the disease among surveillance officers in the area councils.

He said with the support of WHO, 12 officers were trained last week on active surveillance.

“Usually we do not wait till there is outbreak before we act because we know that the disease occurs seasonally between November and March or April.

“We start early to prepare because FCT is surrounded by high risk states like Niger, Nasarawa and Kogi that is why we always prepare ahead.

“The health educators are also in the area councils creating awareness about this disease and letting the people know how to prevent outbreak of the disease, the control measures.

“We have started mass vaccination which is on-going now in all parts of FCT starting with the IDP camps and other high risk communities like Durumi,’’ he said.