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How to cope with ongoing cholera, diarrhoea, gastroenteritis outbreaks in Lagos

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Several reports have alerted to a cholera outbreak in Lagos State and over 100 cases recorded in Lagos Island General Hospital and some few cases in Isolo General Hospital.

The reports advised people to avoid patronising food vendors, for now, maintain a high standard of personal hygiene by washing their hands with soap and water and the use of sanitisers. “Please educate your children because they are a vulnerable group. Please notify others in your neighborhood.”

Confirming the reports, the Lagos State government reiterated the need for citizens to maintain a high standard of personal and environmental hygiene at all times as part of the measures to prevent the outbreak of epidemics especially the spread of gastroenteritis also known as vomiting and diarrhea which has been reported in the State.

Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, while reviewing the situation report of cases of the gastroenteritis recorded in the state after the weekly biosecurity update meeting disclosed that 117 cases of the disease had been seen at health facilities in five local government areas (LGAs).

“Following the report of these cases, Rapid Response Teams at the affected LGAs led by the Medical Officers of Health were activated, stool specimen was collected for laboratory test to confirm the micro-organism causing the vomiting and diarrhea while surveillance have also been scaled up in communities within the affected LGAs to stop the spread of the infection. The results of laboratory tests will be published once the source pathogen is identified”, he said.

He stated that the local government areas were cases have been reported are Lagos Island, Ajeromi, Apapa, Mushin and Ikeja adding that out of the 117 cases reported, 109 have been treated and discharged. Abayomi noted that the increase in a number of cases of gastroenteritis is not unconnected with persistent rain with flooding of some LGAs in the State. He indicated that the State government through Rapid Response Teams is, however, providing information for members of the affected community and the public on personal hygiene and environmental sanitation to halt the spread of the infection.

The Commissioner explained that microorganisms like those causing typhoid fever, cholera, cause Gastroenteritis and certain viruses adding that it can be contracted by eating or drinking contaminated foods such as uncooked seafood or shellfish from estuarine waters. He averred that lack of access to safe water and food supplies, attending large gatherings of people including ceremonies such as weddings or funerals and contact persons who died of gastroenteritis are other predisposing factors to contacting the infection.

“Patients with gastroenteritis present with severe acute watery diarrhea and profuse vomiting. Those infected with microorganisms causing the disease to show signs and symptoms within 12 hours to one week after ingesting contaminated food or water. The disease affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if untreated,” Abayomi said.

The Commissioner while stressing that the need to ensure and maintain a high standard of hygiene listed measures to be taken to reduce the risk of contracting the infection as including washing of hands with soaps and water frequently and thoroughly and boiling of water before drinking if the source of the water is in doubts. He emphasized the need for citizens to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating; cook food thoroughly; dispose waste material properly, avoid open and indiscriminate defecation and keep water containers clean noting that these are part of the measures that can help curtail the spread and prevent the diseases.

“Citizens must ensure proper disposal of waste and ensure they avoid possible backflow connection between water and sewer system. It is important that citizens wash hands with soap and running water thoroughly especially after defecation, before eating or food preparation and when they have been in contact with a sick person or touch any item or surface that may have been contaminated,” Abayomi said.

The Commissioner also advised health workers to ensure that they take universal safety precautions when dealing with patients stressing that they must practice good hand washing techniques and report any alarming increase in cases gastroenteritis-vomiting and diarrhea to the Medical Officer of Health in their local government or the Directorate of Disease Control through these lines: 08023169485 and 08023608195.


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