Following two confirmed cases of bacterial meningitis in Tirana, infectious disease specialist Tritan Kalo has called for calm.
“The infections caused by meningitis are known in our country…please, less panic and more logical reasoning.”
There have been two confirmed cases, all in adults aged 28 and 33 years old, during the past week but this is in line with the average annual figures and is not considered an epidemic.
Exit contacted a Ministry of Health employee who works within the containment of infectious diseases who confirmed that there is no cause for concern. They said that there were two confirmed cases of bacterial meningitis but that it was “not an outbreak” and it was the same number of cases that were seen last year.
They advised that vaccination is only really necessary if an outbreak occurs although concerned citizens can choose to vaccinate if they wish. Meningitis vaccinations are not on the government-mandated schedule from birth in Albania like they are in the UK and US.
A doctor contacted for comment confirmed this and stated that a bigger concern for citizens should be the prevalence of influenza.
Earlier this month, the government called on citizens to get the vaccination for influenza as well as taking precautions to counter its spread. The vaccine is available for free from all government clinics and while it is not 100% effective, it not only prevents, but it lessens the severity of the illness if one is to contract it.
Influenza kills as many as 646,000 people each year and those at risk include pregnant women, babies and children, and the elderly. Even those not at high risk are recommended to get vaccinated to protect those around them.
If you are concerned about the risk of meningitis, here is information on symptoms to look out for.