Apr 16, 2017 12:12 PM EDT By RG Tizon

Meningitis kills hundreds in Nigeria

The death toll in Nigeria has already reached a total of 489 deaths as of this week because of meningitis.

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The death toll in Nigeria has reached 489 this year due to a meningitis outbreak.
Photo Credit Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Nigeria's Center for Disease Control has announced that there has already been a total of 489 deaths as of this week because of meningitis.

Lack of vaccines is reported to be one of the factors that has affected the rise of death tolls. Since last month, the health agency has already warned that the supplies for the vaccines for the meningitis cases were not enough. 

Meningitis is a severe inflammation of the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and the brain. Nigeria is one of the countries in Africa that has been known to have large chances of meningitis epidemic spread. In 2013, a new type of meningococcal meningitis has surfaced across the country, which is called "Stereotype C." It has been reported on CNN that these types have a more serious effect to the human body and if left untreated for days, it could be fatal in 50 percent of the cases.

The World Health Organization, Red Cross and the United Nations Children's Fund are already making a move regarding the need of vaccines for the Nigerians affected by the epidemic. The WHO has sent 500,000 doses of meningococcal vaccines and an additional doses of 820,000 vaccines donated by the government of Great Britain. A majority of the units have been received by five states in Nigeria that contain the largest number of people affected by the disease.

The Nigerian Center for Disease Control head, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that approximately 1.3 million meningococcal vaccines have already been sent and acquired. Aside from this, a response team has also been sent to the five states in the country that are highly affected by the epidemic. To further assist in combatting meningitis, Dr. Alemu from the WHO has stated that the different health organizations are focusing on public awareness regarding the correct and effective uses of the vaccines given.

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