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Guiding against cholera outbreak in Ondo

Kemi Olatunde

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There has been an increasing trend of cholera cases across the country in the last few days and it is important that all hands are in deck to prevent it in Ondo State especially as it as affected some other South West states.

Oyo State has recorded two suspected cases of cholera just as the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Oluwaserimi Ajetunmobi confirmed the development on Saturday.

Dr Ajetunmobi who stated this during a visit to a private hospital in Ibadan where the two suspected cholera cases were receiving treatment used the opportunity to call on the residents to be more vigilant.

The commissioner also tasked the residents to adopt precautionary measures to prevent the spread of a potential cholera outbreak in the state.

She noted that cholera is a bacterial infection spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated by the faeces (poop) of an infected person.

She explained that cholera is highly infectious and can cause severe acute watery diarrhoea with severe dehydration.

She added that the two suspected cases in Ibadan have been traced to Lagos and tracked down to a private facility in the state to male workers at a construction site in Lekki Peninsula area of Lagos State.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) reported that as of June 11, 2024, 1,141 suspected cholera cases had been recorded across 30 states in Nigeria since January 1,  2024. The 10 states that recorded 90 percent  of the cases are mostly located in the South (Bayelsa—over 400 cases, Lagos, Abia, Cross River, Delta, Imo States), with some situated further north (Katsina, Nasarawa, Zamfara States).

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease caused by Vibrio cholerae bacteria. It is passed on from faeces through contaminated food, drinks and unhygienic environments, and causes severe dehydration. Infected people can die if their illness is not quickly managed with oral rehydration.

Symptoms of cholera include acute, painless watery diarrhoea of sudden onset, with or without vomiting. It may be associated with nausea, profuse vomiting and fever.

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The Lagos State government has confirmed 17 cholera cases out of 350 suspected cases in 29 wards in the state.

According to a statement on Saturday, the state government said it has recorded 15 fatalities from the cholera outbreak.

The statement signed by the Director of Public Affairs at the state Ministry of Health, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, noted that the government has activated its Public Health Emergency Operations Centre at Mainland Hospital, Yaba, Lagos.

It said the PHEOC was convened to address the increasing number of severe gastroenteritis cases across multiple LGAs in the state.

 on steps taken to control the outbreak in Lagos State

Due to the nature of the disease, a lot of call have been made to Nigerians on the need to prevent it.

The National Biosafety Management Agency has called on the general public to exercise caution over the recent cholera outbreak in some states across Nigeria.

Head, Information and Communications for NBMA, Mrs Gloria Ogbaki, in a statement on Friday in Abuja, quoted the Director- General, NBMA, Dr Agnes Asagbra, as saying there was need for carefulness.

Asagbra said Nigerians must exercise caution as Nigeria records 30 deaths and 1,141 suspected cases from the disease

“Cholera, a highly contagious bacterial infection caused by the ingestion of contaminated food or water, has been reported in Bayelsa, Zamfara, Abia, Cross River, Bauchi, Delta, Katsina, Imo, Nasarawa, and Lagos States.”

Asagbra said NBMA, in collaboration with health authorities, was actively monitoring the situation and implementing measures to contain the spread of the disease.

She also called on Nigerians to imbibe various hygiene practices such as boiling drinking water or using certified water purification methods.

According to her, there is need to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially before eating or preparing food.

The Director-General also urged Nigerians to always wash hands with soap and water after using the toilet, cook food thoroughly and consume it while it was hot.

She advised that Nigerians avoid raw foods, such as fruits and vegetables unless they could be peeled or washed with safe water and to always keep the environment clean and dispose waste properly to prevent contamination.

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She said, “NBMA urges all Nigerians to be vigilant and adhere to these hygiene practices to protect themselves and their loved ones from cholera.”

She called on Nigerians to be alert and report any case of cholera to the nearest hospital.

Ondo State Government on its part has assured residents that efforts are in top gear to combat it in the state even as its outbreak ravages two states in the South West of Nigeria.

Commissioner for Health, Dr. Banji Awolowo Ajaka stated this while speaking with journalists in Akure on Monday

According to him, the state has activated its surveillance for immediate response to any case of cholera in the state.

He noted that there were two cases in Okitipupa Local government Areas in the state at the beginning of the year stating that it was curtailed by the Rapid Response team of the state.

Ajaka explained that the state has strengthened the Rapid Response Team which includes PHC coordinators , lab focal persons, Disease Survellance officers in the three senatorial districts of the state through the COPREP program.

His words; “The surveillance team was also strengthened by the COPREP program with community informants / contact tracers trained and placed on stipends for eight months , they however would  be deployed for active case search in preparation for  cholera outbreak”

Ajaka explained that an emergency preparedness committee would be put place to work on issues such as provision of portable water, sanitation, strengthening of the health institutions and other relevant sectors which would be a collaborative effort between all the Agencies in the health sector and other MDAs such as Ministries of  Environment, Agriculture, information, Water Resources and Waste management Agency

The commissioner also mentioned that an incident management system would be set up through the EOC which would facilitate case detection,isolation and treatment of cases including complications

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He assured of government readiness to play its part by sensitizing and creating awareness in the mass media and  through community engagement.

He appealed to citizens of the state  to maintain a high level of personal and food hygiene adding that they should report promptly to the hospital in case of diarrhoea and vomiting.

The government of Ekiti State too is not left out in this as it has put in place  an already established Rapid Response Team (RRT) at both State and Local Government Areas (LGAs) to actively search for cholera cases. As a result of this, there is a heightened surveillance for Cholera and other priority diseases across the 16 LGAs in the State.

We should note that Lack of access to safe drinking water and poor personal and environmental hygiene are basic factors that promote the spread of cholera. Infection also occurs when people eat or drink something that’s already contaminated by the bacteria. Evidence from the 1995-1996 outbreak in Kano state revealed that poor hand hygiene before meals and vended water played a role.

Population congestion is also a factor in the spread of cholera.

Regular health education during and after outbreaks is necessary. Community engagement would help to identify people who would be responsible for timely reporting of suspected cases of cholera. The teams that manages outbreaks at the local, state and federal government levels should be well coordinated and respond swiftly when notified of a cholera outbreak.

In light of the recent cholera outbreak in Lagos, Nigeria, it’s crucial to be aware of the situation and take necessary precautions. It is important to drink safe water, embrace regular hand washing often with soap and clean running water,  undercooked, maintain cleanliness in surroundings, including proper waste disposal and toilet hygiene.

On the part of government, there should be Regular health education during and after outbreaks, and response team at all levels must be up and doing especially when notified of an outbreak.

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Guiding against cholera outbreak in Ondo

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