Nigeria: Cholera Claims 352 Lives

The cholera epidemic, assuming the status of a devastating hurricane sweeping through the North West, North East and South Eastern parts of the country, has now recorded 6,497 cases with 352 deaths while the Federal Government, yesterday, alerted the nation that the entire country was at risk of the epidemic.

A statement issued yesterday on the update of the out break of Cholera and Measles from January to 23 August, 2010, said the government, through the Ministry of Health warned that although most outbreaks occurred in the Northwest and Northeast zones the epidemiological evidence from the diseases indicates that the entire country is at risk.

The statement signed by the Special Assistant to the Minister of Health on Communication, Mrs. Rakiya Zubairu said the nation recorded 6,497 cases with 352 deaths from cholera between January to August 23.

In the table showing the cumulative cases, deaths, and number of local government areas affected by cholera outbreak from January to August 2010, the first outbreak occurred in Adamawa State in June and as at July a total of 352 deaths out of 6,497 suspected cases of cholera had been recorded in 11 states.

The table also showed that out of the 11 affected states, Bauchi recorded the highest with 1,725 cases of cholera, 53 deaths, and eight local governments affected.

Other states which had the highest cases include Gombe with 1,188 cases, 59 deaths, and two LGAs affected, followed by Borno with 1090 cases, 80 deaths; Adamawa, 986 cases, 56 deaths, and four LGAs, Cross River, 557, 24 deaths and Yobe 458 cases, 46 deaths and three LGAs affected. Jigawa recorded 86 cases, six deaths and four local governments; Taraba 277 cases, 16 deaths and one LGA; FCT 137 cases, two deaths, one area council; Kaduna 12 cases, two deaths and one LGA; and Rivers 81 cases, three deaths and three LGAs.

The statement added that laboratory results of stool and water samples collected from suspected cases indicated that VIBRO CHOLERA was isolated from Gombe, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa and Taraba States, while coliform was isolated from water samples in Rivers State.

Also, Medecins Sans Frontiers corroborated laboratory results through independent investigation in Demsa, Yola South, Guyuk, and Numan Local Government Areas of Adamawa State.

The statement noted that the organisation collected fresh stool samples from suspected cases in these LGAs and subjected them to rapid diagnostic tests for cholera using the “CHOLERA SMART KIT”. It added that 14 of these specimens tested positive for Vibro cholera.

The statement said the reason for the outbreaks of Cholera in most states particularly in the North eastern part of the country this year was as a result of heavy rains in most parts of the country leading to flooding in many communities.

It said: “A quick survey that was done by Federal Ministry of Health revealed that less than 40 per cent of the entire populations in affected States have access to toilet facilities of any description. Thus, open defecation is the only alternative available to the people. Another major factor responsible for the epidemic is the fact that majority of our population (66 per cent in rural dwellers) lack access to safe drinking water, while the wells from where drinking water is drawn from by the rural population are without cover, hence open to contamination.”

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