19 October 2016

Liberia: Grand Gedeh's Rural Town Sweating Over Whooping Cough Outbreak

Zwedru — There is an outbreak of whooping cough in Gbarzon, Grand Gedeh County, according to the county's health team.

Marking the disclosure to newsmen in Zwedru, the Acting County Health Officer Netus Nowine said about 25 cases of whooping cough had been confirmed by health authorities in the county.

Nowine told journalists that on October 3, 2016 the county health team and partners heard a rumor of suspected whooping cough outbreak in the Zean Town community, adding that the outbreak was confirmed after five children were affected in one community and later started spreading in the next communities.

Whooping cough, also scientifically called pertussis, is a serious respiratory infection caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis.

The infection causes violent and uncontrollable coughing that makes an infected person face breathing difficulty.

While whooping cough can affect people at any age, it can be deadly for infants and young children.

He said the infected children, especially the first, started showing signs and symptoms including running nose; prolong cough fits, vomiting, red eyes and fever.

The heath team and other health providers' organization immediately begun investigating the situation and later moved into the community, after the suspected cases were verified and confirmed.

"We were able to identify eight children with the same signs and symptoms in Zean Town but two children were taken out of the village to traditional herbalist due to their bad conditions, especially the persistence vomiting and red eyes. Two were sent out of the village for medical treatment," Netus said".

He maintained that the cause of the outbreak of whooping cough in Gboe-Ploe was due to lack of health facilities and trained health practitioners in the area. He noted that the district lacked basic social necessities since its establishment in 1964 due to its abandonment by past county and national leaders.

According to him, the district only received health service through an outreach with a mobile clinic visiting the area after every three months, something which he described as an embarrassing situation.

"Gboe-Ploe is a vulnerable region in Grand Gedeh County, it lacks good road network and GSM Network, something which is preventing health workers to go there to rendered health services". "Netus explained"

He, however, stated that a team of medical Practitioners have been dispatched to conduct more investigation in order to curtail the situation.

"The saturation should not make citizens to be panic because whooping cough is not like Ebola that can be transferred from person to person," Netus said.

The acting County Health Officer then called on every citizen to remain calm as the situation would be addressed shortly.

Meanwhile, one of the victim's mothers, who spoke to a cross section of local journalists in Zwedru, said her daughter vomited blood and at the same time a neighbor's child was coming down with similar symptoms.

She said it shocked the entire town and surrounding communities, and they were worried that the situation had prevented them from going on the farm for a week because they had to stay home and take care of the sick children.

"We have been talking this over and over that the act of living without health has led to this situation that we are experiencing now," Victoria said.

Gboe-Ploe, the main affected town, is about 49 kilometers away from Zwedru, Grand Gedeh's capital. The town currently has a population of nearly 2000 people.

This story was written in collaboration with Local Voices Liberia media network. Local Voices is a network of Liberian journalists from across the 15 counties working to lift the stories that are underreported.

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