Daily Champion (Lagos)

2 June 2011

Nigeria: Community Deserted, As 30 Die From Cholera

Umuahia — Ezeukwu community in Bende LGA of Abia state has been virtually deserted as residents flee in drones to nearby communities and close relations in the cities following cholera outbreak that hit the area last Monday, May 30.

Daily Champion authoritatively reports that death toll has risen to 30 since the epidemic broke out , claiming two casualties in one family in some instances.

Some of the victims evacuated from the community had been hospitalized at Amachara General Hospital in Umuahia South LGA where doctors are now battling to save their lives as most of the heath Centres in the area are already congested, thus raising panic that more casualties might be recorded as a matter of hours if no tangible control measures were undertaken by government urgently.

Reports say the remote and un-motor able community has poor waste disposal facilities as experts attribute the cause of the epidemic to consumption of polluted water, saying that rain waters must have polluted the "Ezeukwu stream", the community's only source of drinking water with both human wastes and animal dung.

Speaking with our correspondent yesterday in Umuahia, the State's former Commissioner for Health, Dr. Okechukwu Ogar, said that over 30 persons "with serious cases of vomiting" had been evacuated from the community to nearby hospitals.

He said that samples of the case had been collected from the affected persons for analysis in the laboratory to establish whether or not it was cholera as the victims had "more or less shown symptoms of acute diarrhea ".

Dr. Ogar further said that all Directors as well as health workers in the Ministry of Health had been drafted to the community to assist the affected persons in the area, assuring that other measures including provision of potable water were being considered by government to prevent escalation of the case.

Meanwhile when Daily Champion visited the community some villagers in an interview attributed the cause of the epidemic to "an occultic burial" held recently in the community as about 10 persons who had attended the funeral suddenly started stooling and vomiting uncontrollably.

The Traditional Ruler of the community HRH Eze Hyacinth Ogwochukwu was said to be in Lagos where he resides while the Traditional Prime Minister was said to be in the hospital where he is attending to his wife also affected by the epidemic.

Our source said 10 persons had died between 3 a.m and 4 p.m on Monday alone, alleging that the out break might not be unconnected with the "evil funeral" while others said it was caused by contaminated stream which serves as the community's only source of water.

But some argued that the same source of water had served the community for decades, insisting that the disease might not be unconnected with the alleged "occultic burial" as rumour mills also have it that goats which fed from left over meals at the funeral all died.

At Alayi Health Centre a health worker who would not want name in print told our correspondent that all 14 patients brought at the centre on Sunday died later, and appealed to government to take urgent steps at controlling the epidemic before it escalates.

Some of the patients who look very weak and dehydrated appealed to both the Federal Government and the United Nations to come to their rescue as the entire community might be wiped out by the deadly disease should no urgent steps be taken.

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