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Sokoto families recount ordeal caused by water contamination

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The mood in Auwalu Isah Helele’s house was gloomy. He had just lost his three-year-old son, Aliyu, to water contamination in Helele and Kofar Kware areas of Magajin Gari, Sokoto North local government area of Sokoto State.

Common symptoms included diarrhoea and vomiting, and residents recalled that most cases started last Monday and that the situation worsened a day after when multiple deaths were recorded.

“Two persons died at one Malam Salau’s house, and at an Islamiyya school, two almajiris died,” a youth leader in Helele, Alhaji Mujitaba Isah, disclosed.

Aliyu’ grieving father said: “It was at around 7.pm when my son fell ill. He purged and vomited. We gave him drip and injection but by 4.am, he died at home.”

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Auwalu’s two other children Abubakar, 12 and Umar, 8 also had similar symptoms, but luckily they survived the scourge after treatment at the hospital.

Auwalu told The Guardian that the scourge was caused by water pollution from damaged water pipes after heavy-duty vehicle evacuated refuse at a dumping site in the area.

“Our wives detected a change of colour and unusual odour with the tap water. Many believed that the refuse evacuation exercise may have damaged our water system,” he said.

For Ibrahim Mohammed, 50, his 45-year-old wife Aisha and 17-year-old son Hassan contracted the ailment.

“My wife complained of stomach-ache when I came to take my meal around 8.pm on Sunday. I bought drugs for her at a patent medicine store, but she purged later at around 11.pm. Her condition degenerated and she started vomiting early morning the next day.

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“We took her to Specialists Hospital, Sokoto, where she is still responding to treatment.”
Muhammad’s 17-year-old son, Hassan, fell ill on Monday morning around 11.am, he complained of feverish feelings and was taken to the hospital.

“We were lucky the government intervention drugs arrived at the hospital and soon my son recovered and was discharged. The government’s rapid response to the outbreak reduced the number of deaths,” he said.

The state governor, Aminu Tambuwal, had announced that his government raised a committee of experts, headed by the state Commissioners for Health
and Environment, to investigate the disease and find its cure and prevention.

The government also took responsibility for the treatment of the victims undergoing medical attention due to the illness.

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