The death toll from Nigeria’s meningitis outbreak has risen to 745, the country's center for disease control announced Wednesday evening.
Warning that the outbreak had reached “epidemic threshold” in certain states, the center indicated that there had been another 256 deaths in the past week.
“As at April 17, 2017, 8,057 suspected cases have been reported; 230 (3 percent) are laboratory confirmed. A total of 745 deaths (9.2 percent) have been recorded,” the center said in its weekly report.
“Of the reported cases, 450 (6 percent) were laboratory tested; of these, 230 (51 percent) were confirmed positive for bacterial meningitis,” it added.
Health Minister Isaac Adewole had told an emergency meeting of traditional rulers and top politicians across northern region that the disease has spread to 26 of the country's 36 states and that at least 21 million people were in urgent need of the vaccine.
He also said over $1 billion were needed to acquire vaccines to halt the spread of the disease.
The latest outbreak is identified largely as type C meningitis -- the first time the strain is ravaging Nigeria.
Meningitis is the swelling of the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord, i.e. the meninges
Experts say the most common symptoms of the highly contagious disease are fever, headache and neck stiffness.
Nigeria’s center for disease control said meningitis was airborne and urged people to maintain proper ventilation and good personal hygiene.
Only 33 deaths were reported in a 2016 outbreak of the disease, while 131 died of it in 2015 across 28 states and in the capital city Abuja.
Nigeria falls in what is known as meningitis belt in sub-Saharan Africa.