21 December 2013

Nigeria: Kano, Nasarawa Communities At the Mercy of Cholera Invasion

Photo: Nancy Palus/IRIN
A man washes his hands during cholera prevention session (file photo).

Again, cholera epidemic has hit Kano metropolis and some troubled areas in Nasarawa state, reportedly killing scores of people, with many others hospitalized in critical conditions.

Scores of people in Kano metropolis are now bedridden and agonizing in pains, as a result of the sudden outbreak of cholera in some parts of the state. The cholera epidemic struck the communities 10 days ago and has so far claimed the lives of over 12 persons.

Weekly Trust gathered that an estimated 336 people are presently receiving treatment at the Infectious Disease Hospital (Asibitin Zana) and various other emergency treatment centres in the state.

The disease, according to medical experts, occurs primarily by the contamination of food and drinking water as a result of poor environmental hygiene. They said the bacteria makes the infected person into uncontrolled diarrhea and vomiting, which can lead to rapid dehydration and death in some cases.

Weekly Trust gathered that in the last 10 days, the epidemic showed its presence in the in the state, unconfirmed death toll is pegged at about 12 people, with several others, on admission at various health centres, as doctors disclose that the figure is still on the increase.

However, the state government had last Tuesday confirmed the death of five persons and 336 other cholera victims receiving treatment at various emergency treatment centres.

In some of the hospitals in the metropolis where the patients are admitted, most of the victims are still in bad shape, though they have spentg many days at the hospitals.

Nura Sani Abdullahi a patient receiving treatment at the hospital said he has an uncontrollable diarrhea and vomiting for three days before he was rushed to the hospital.

"At the beginning it was only diarrhea, but after two days I started vomiting watery substances. In the first day, I was going to the toilet alone, but on the second day, I had to be aided before I could even stand. After three days in that condition, my parents decided to bring me to this hospital where I was given intravenous fluids and some drugs.

"Now I am feeling much better after taking the drugs, the vomiting has stopped, and the diarrhea is not frequent again," he said.

Another patient, Rakiya Halliru, a 22-year-old resident of Wuro Bagga village said she spent five days in the hospital before the vomiting stopped.

"Today is my fifth day in this hospital. I am feeling much better now, the vomiting has stopped now and the diarrhea has also reduced, I am much better now than I was before I came here," Rakiya said.

Those in critical conditions hardly speak, because their voices were not audible; they only nod their heads to acknowledge greetings.

Kano state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Abubakar Labaran Yusuf told a press conference last week that the state government has taken measures to curtail the situation to avert further spread of the disease.

Dr. Yusuf said the epidemic is caused by poor personal and environmental hygiene that contaminates the water and food people take.

Investigations by Weekly Trust reveal also that apart from personal hygiene, the condition at the Cholera Treatment Centre, a ward specially dedicated to cholera victims at the IDH is bad. The bad state of both the male and female wards is unfitting for patients.

The male ward smells foul odour, as there was a watery substance flowing on the floor and flies all over the place. It was gathered that, fresh cases are still being recorded with people still trooping to the emergency centres for treatment.

At the IDH, officials had to create additional tents at the premises to complement the two wards, in order to contain large number of patients craving for attention. Uninfected relatives of the victims had to be restricted from visiting the patients to avoid infection and further spread.

Also, in Awe headquarters of Nasarawa state, the first two weeks of December saw another outbreak of cholera, which begun initially, as a strange ailment, but later confirmed as cholera. Media simply reported a strange disease, which killed and sent a dozen others to hospital bed.

The water borne disease hit Awe, headquarters of Awe Local Government Area, at the border with Taraba State in the southern parts of the state, killing nine, with 22 others hospitalized.

The disease was first reported at Akwete, a village outside of the local government headquarters, before it was observed to have spread to both Old Awe and New Awe areas of the township, persons spoken to said yesterday.

Alhaji Tanimu Bako Audu, a relative of one of the deceased in the township had told Weekly Trust on phone that the disease ravaged the three areas for upward of two weeks without any intervention from the government .

"I lost a relative at the weekend after we rushed him to the hospital. He was vomiting and stooling. He suffered stomach ache," said Audu.

He said, not less than five persons have died within the metropolis of Awe alone, in the last two weeks.

Weekly Trust gathered that an adult female died in Akwete where the disease was first reported, while an adult male was hospitalized, after he suffered similar symptoms.

Residents of the township also said not less than eight others died there, while 22 others have been hospitalized, in two weeks.

But the Director of Personnel Management (DPM), David Ari, who is the Acting council chairman, told Weekly Trust on phone that only four persons died, while five were hospitalized at the Primary Health Care centre in the area.

He said local government health personnel moved in, and intervened with treatment. He also said reports from the health team showed that "they suffered vomiting and diarrhea". This is just as the state commissioner of Health, Dr. Emmanuel Akabe had initially confirmed that there were cases of deaths in the area, within the period, but insisted that only two died, saying there were no cases of cholera.

"I can confirm 17 cases of diarrhea and vomiting. None tested positive for cholera," he said, adding "I had constituted an emergency health team; when this was reported to me, I sent the team down to Awe immediately.

"They moved them all to the hospital. But two had already died. The others have been treated and are doing well," Dr. Akabe had said.

But Akabe, this week, confirmed to this reporter that two cases of cholera were confirmed as a full length laboratory test was conducted. He nevertheless said his ministry has long tackled the spread with the prompt response which the team of medical officers had done in the early days of the report of the disease.

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