A strain of bacterial meningitis has killed nine people in the Indian capital and possibly affected 42 others, sending thousands of panicky people rushing to hospitals to get themselves and their children vaccinated.
A government statement said 51 suspected cases of Menigococcal disease had been reported in New Delhi in the past few weeks, but added there was no need for panic as the disease could be treated with antibiotics and there was enough stock of medicine.The disease, spread through direct contact with infected droplets from the mouth or nose, has returned to the city of 14 million people after two decades.”It’s a cyclical disease. Its symptoms are high grade fever, loss of consciousness and haemorrhage and it can lead to multi-organ failure if not treated in time,” Shashi Khare of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases told Reuters on Thursday.The last major epidemic in India occurred in 1999 with 686 deaths and over 7,400 reported cases. The capital was not affected by that outbreak.This week, scores of people have been lining up at hospitals to get themselves vaccinated against the disease and authorities have advised people to report to the nearest health facility in case of a sudden rise in fever with headaches, nausea or neck pain.Anxious parents were rushing their children to pediatricians to get them immunised. Infants are particularly susceptible to the disease.Meningitis is an infection of the fluid in a person’s spinal cord and of the fluid that surrounds the brain.(Source: Reuters Health, May 2005)