About 12 persons have been feared dead from the outbreak of cholera in Okota area of Lagos State and several others hospitalised in different parts of the state, following the outbreak of the disease. This also followed a report that in the last one week, about 50 persons have died in Zamfara State, after contracting the scourge.
THISDAY checks at hospitals in Isolo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of the state and its environs such as Okota, Bucknor, Jakande Estate, Oke-Afa Canal, Ejigbo, Ikotun, within the last three days witnessed patients, who were on admission suffering from the scourge.
A medical doctor at one of the hospitals at Ago Palace Way, Okota, said they had to report the incident to the local government which promised to take samples to the laboratory to determine if it was a case of cholera as suspected or gastroenteritis.
A visit to Sijuade Street, Off Ago Palace Way, Okota, revealed that about two persons died over the weekend, after continuous stooling and vomiting, including one Sunday Emeka, a generator repairer, who died on Sunday, after stooling and vomiting consistently.
Another deceased, who was simply identified as Charles, was said to have been resting in his residence beside the Oke-Afa Canal, and without warning, started stooling and vomiting.
At one of the hospitals THISDAY visited, two sisters were admitted on the same day after they had stooled and vomited consistently and although they were responding to treatment, they had adult-sized pampers on them to cushion the effect of the stooling. At Femi Killa, it was gathered that about three persons died after eating the local African Salad, which they bought from a food vendor in the area and the seller was arrested by the police.
However, when THISDAY contacted the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), in-charge of Ago, Orobiyi Musendiq, a Superintendent of Police (SP), he debunked claims that he made any arrest of that nature.
In a related development, the Medical Director of Ago Medical Centre, Dr. Kola Afolabi, said there was an outbreak of gastroenteritis, which he described, as one of the symptoms of cholera. Afolabi said: "For the past one week, patients with frequent diarrhoea and vomiting have been brought to my hospital, but I cannot say it is cholera because a diagnosis must be conducted to confirm cholera."
Although the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, admitted that they had recorded cholera cases, he said it would be incorrect to call it an outbreak, adding that they were on top of the situation.
He said: "That 12 people have died is totally incorrect. I am only aware of one case. Compared to other parts of the country, it is not proper to call what is happening in Lagos an outbreak. "We have sent our officials to the various local governments where it has been reported and the victims are being adequately treated. The public should maintain good personal hygiene and ensure that their food and water are properly preserved."
However, disclosed this at a news conference he addressed along with his Information counterpart, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba and his Permanent Secretary, Dr. Femi Olugbile yesterday, Idris confirmed the outbreak of cholera in six local government areas in the state.
He said the most suspected cases were from Ajeromi, Apapa, Lagos Island, Oshodi-Isolo and Surulere local government areas of the state, adding that many of the cases had been treated and discharged in public hospitals.
He urged the state residents "to be vigilant and report any suspected case, dead or alive, to the nearest health facility and the directorate of disease control in the state. Cholera is an acute contagious bacterial disease that is characterised by severe form of sudden onset of profuse painless watery stools, nausea and profuse vomiting."
Meanwhile, the Medical Director of Zamfara State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Labaran Anka, said 536 others have also been infected by the disease. Anka, according to Associated Press (AP), blamed the outbreak of the disease on contaminated water in the affected areas.
Villagers rely on handmade ponds where animals and people share water. Anka said about 420 patients had been treated and discharged since the first victims arrived last Friday. Similarly, the Plateau State Government has confirmed that about 96 persons have been infected and hospitalised over cholera in Qua'npan Local Government Area of the state, while nine persons have been lost so far to the outbreak of the disease in the state.
The state Epidemiologist, Dr. Raymond Yuryit, who disclosed this yesterday at Namu village in a chat with journalists, added that the nine victims died as a result of poor management of the disease by health workers.
Identifying overcrowding, dirty environment and unhygienic food and water as the causes of the outbreak, Yurit said those diagnosed with the disease had been hospitalised in various healthcare centres in the area.
According to him, most of the boreholes in the local government were not functional, the wells were left uncovered and the environment is not sanitised.
Also speaking, a Deputy Director from the Federal Ministry of Health, Moses Anafiong, said President Goodluck Jonathan was saddened by the outbreak of cholera in the state. He advised the villagers to boil their waters before drinking and take necessary measures at sanitising their environment.
The chairperson of the state Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) Committee, Mrs. Hannatu Dantong, who doubles as the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Water Resources, said the ministry would carry out an awareness campaign to the villages on how best to sanitise environment in order to stop the spread of the disease.
The interim Administrator of Qua'npan, Vou Dido, said the local government was collaborating with other agencies to improve the water situation in the local government, adding that the state government was willing to do everything to put an to end the spread of the disease. Authorities in the state had announced the outbreak of the disease in Namu village, where about 7,000 displaced persons in the violent crisis which broke out in Nasarawa State were currently taking refuge.