1997 - Viral meningitis in Gaza
07 July 1997
Disease Outbreak Reported
A marked increase in the number of cases of meningitis was reported by the health services in the Gaza strip in late May and early June. Most cases were in children in the age group 2-5 years with, in general, mild symptoms, few complications and no deaths. The increase was detected through the strengthened preparedness for infectious diseases prevention and control set up by the health authorities in accordance with WHO recommendations in which all cases of suspected meningitis are notified and investigated in the laboratory.
During January-May 1997 a total of 180 cases of meningitis were reported compared with 121 during the same period in 1997. The increase in 1997 was particularly marked in the fourth week of May in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Bacterial meningitis was confirmed in 54 cases, mainly associated with Neisseria meningitidis but also Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae and other bacteria. During the first 10 days of June 157 cases of meningitis were reported to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, with the daily numbers increasing from 4 on 1 June to 26 on 10 June. All parts of the Gaza Strip were affected by the outbreak but the highest rate was in the north. Of the 157 investigated cases, 149 were diagnosed as aseptic meningitis. Echoviruses and other enteroviruses have been isolated from specimens from these cases which were investigated by the virology laboratory in Tel-Hashomer in Israel.