NCDC confirms 20 cholera deaths, 319 suspected cases in Borno
• Deploys rapid response team to curtail spread
•China reports human infection with bird flu
The Federal Government, through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has confirmed 319 suspected cases of cholera outbreak and 20 deaths in Borno State. It has also deployed a rapid response team to curtail the spread.
The National Coordinator (NC)/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) OF NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, yesterday told journalists that following investigations led by the Borno State Ministry of Health, with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partner agencies, cholera was confirmed by NCDC’s Central Public Health Laboratory in Lagos. It is currently affecting six areas in the state, with Muna Garage IDP camp, on the outskirts of the state capital, Maiduguri, as the most affected.
Cholera is an acute enteric infection caused by the ingestion of bacterium Vibrio cholerae present in faecally contaminated water or food. Primarily linked to insufficient access to safe water and proper sanitation, its impact can be even more dramatic in areas where basic environmental infrastructures are disrupted or have been destroyed such as war-torn areas and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.
Ihekweazu, in a statement, said the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), through its agencies, NCDC and the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), are working closely with WHO, Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and other humanitarian agencies in Borno, to support the state government in curtailing the spread of the outbreak.
The physician said public health measures that have been initiated include, the establishment of a cholera treatment centre in the affected camp and surrounding areas, strengthening access to water, sanitation and hygiene and partners are working collaboratively to plan a cholera vaccination campaign. He said risk communications activities, using both conventional media and door-to-door enlightenment have been reinforced.
Ihekweazu said while cholera is endemic in Nigeria, the NCDC finds increase in the number of cases during the rainy season, usually between April and September. He said the disease is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated and is more common in areas with overcrowding, poor sanitation and hygiene practices.
When severe, the NCDC boss said, cholera is characterised by sudden onset of severe acute watery diarrhoea, which can lead to death as a result of dehydration. Other symptoms, he said, include nausea, vomiting, weakness.
The NCDC boss urged the public to report all sick persons with these signs or symptoms to a health care facility immediately for early initiation of treatment; and health care workers are strongly advised to practice universal care precautions while handling patients at all times.According to the WHO, 40 million people are currently living in cholera-endemic areas in sub-Saharan Africa alone.
Meanwhile, the WHO, yesterday, said that the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China (NHFPC) has notified it of one additional laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A (H7N9) virus, popularly known as bird flu, in China.
He urged all states to report cases of cholera immediately, while improving on the timeliness of their reporting generally to prevent widespread outbreaks.He urged Nigerians to contact NCDC toll-free numbers: 0800-970000-10 SMS 08099555577 Whatsapp 07087110839. Twitter/Facebook: @NCDCgov.