Survival and sequelae of meningococcal meningitis in Ghana

Hodgson, Abraham ; Smith, Thomas ; Gagneux, Sebastien ; Akumah, Isaac ; Adjuik, Martin ; Pluschke, Gerd ; Binka, Fred ; Genton, Blaise

In: International Journal of Epidemiology, 2001, vol. 30, no. 6, p. 1440-1446

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    Background Meningococcal meningitis epidemics are frequent in the Sahel zone of Africa but there is little information on the frequency of long-term sequelae. We analysed excess mortality in the two years following the 1997 epidemic in northern Ghana and carried out a case-control study to assess sequelae in the survivors. Methods Two-year survival of 696 meningitis cases recorded at the War Memorial Hospital, Navrongo, was analysed using data from a demographic surveillance system. A structured questionnaire on disability and on psychiatric, neuropsychological and behavioural problems was administered to 505 of the survivors and 505 age- sex- and location-matched controls as well as to their respective relatives. Cases and controls underwent full neurological and neuropsychological examination and were evaluated for hearing impairment by audiometry. Results Survival rates after the first month following the attack were similar in cases and controls. Hearing impairment was the major sequela, and was reported in 6 per cent of cases and 2 per cent of controls (odds ratio [OR] = 3.10; 95% CI : 1.48-7.09). Audiometry detected severe and profound hearing loss in the worse affected ear (≥70 db) in 8/496 (1.6%) survivors but in only one control. Survivors of meningitis were more likely to suffer from feelings of tiredness (OR = 1.47; 95% CI : 1.03-2.11) and were more often reported by relatives to have insomnia (OR = 2.31; 95% CI : 1.17-4.82) and daily alcohol consumption. Interpretation Meningococcal meningitis annually causes approximately 10 000 cases of deafness in sub-Saharan Africa; there is a need for early detection of affected survivors and promotion of simple hearing devices. There is a sizeable burden of depressive disorders secondary to meningitis which should be identified and looked after appropriately