As of Monday, “1,828 suspected cases have been reported with 269 deaths in 15 states across Nigeria,” the center said in a series of tweets late Tuesday, calling on citizens to report early warning signs of the disease to nearby hospitals.

This compares to 33 deaths from a 2016 outbreak of the disease, and 131 from a 2015 outbreak across 28 states and the capital Abuja.

Meningitis, a disease caused by bacteria or viruses, is the swelling of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges, and is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Experts say the most common symptoms of the highly contagious disease are fever, headache, and neck stiffness. The disease is curable if detected soon enough. 

The center said meningitis is airborne, and can also be contacted through respiratory secretions, urging people to ensure proper ventilation and maintain good personal hygiene.

Due to climate and hygiene, Nigeria falls in what is known as sub-Saharan Africa’s “meningitis belt”.

Anadolu Agency