• Thursday, July 18, 2024
businessday logo


Lagos on alert for possible cholera outbreak

One dies as Ogun records 25 cases of cholera

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi, a professor, has said that five persons have reportedly died and 60 others hospitalised from the outbreak of severe gastroenteritis in communities around Eti Osa, Lagos Island, Ikorodu and Kosofe Local Government Areas of the state.

Abayomi further disclosed that sadly, five deaths have been recorded mainly from patients presenting late with extreme dehydration.

Read also: Lagos sets up emergency operations as cholera kills 15

“We have activated a statewide heightened surveillance and response. The Ministry of Health Directorate of Environmental Health and the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) have been alerted to investigate a possible water contamination source in the Lekki Victoria Island axis. We suspect a possible cholera outbreak; however, samples have been taken for confirmation. As of April 28, 2024, Nigeria reported 815 suspected cholera cases and 14 deaths across 25 states,” he said.

The Commissioner noted that following recent rains, Lagos State has seen a notable increase in cases of severe vomiting and watery stools, adding that urban slums and crowded areas with poor sanitation are particularly at risk.

Abayomi explained that cholera is a highly contagious disease that causes severe diarrhoea and can be life-threatening, adding that it poses a significant health burden in areas with poor water treatment and sanitation, and could impact Lagos State.

“Cholera spreads through direct transmission by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, and indirect transmission due to poor sanitation and lack of hand washing. Symptoms of cholera include severe watery diarrhoea, vomiting, rapid dehydration, muscle cramps, fever and sometimes collapse,” he said.

According to him, treatment options for cholera include rehydration using Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) for mild to moderate dehydration.

He added that Intravenous Fluids could be adopted for severely dehydrated patients given only in medical facilities and supervised by medical personnel.

“To prevent cholera, citizens are urged to ensure safe drinking water by boiling, chlorinating, or using bottled water, and avoiding ice products made from untreated water. Maintaining proper sanitation by using toilets, safely disposing of faeces, and avoiding open defecation is crucial.

“Practising good hygiene, such as washing hands with soap and clean water regularly, especially before eating, preparing food, and after using the toilet, is essential and following food safety guidelines,” the Commissioner advised.

He enjoined citizens to rely on the Lagos State Ministry of Health, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and accredited local health facilities for guidance, advice, and updates on prevention, treatment, and management.

The commissioner added that suspected cases can be reported via the following emergency hotlines: ‪08023169485‬, ‪08137412348‬, or by using helplines 767 or 112.

While emphasising the importance of maintaining high standards of hygiene and taking proactive measures to prevent cholera outbreaks, Professor Abayomi promised to keep the public informed and restated the commitment of the administration of Babajide Sanwo-Olu to ensuring the health and well-being of its citizens.

“He urges everyone to adopt these preventive measures and report any suspected cases promptly to safeguard our communities,” he said.

Abayomi, who disclosed this while reacting to the state surveillance reports, said the state government has issued a call for heightened vigilance and the adoption of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of a potential cholera outbreak in the state.

Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhoea, and can lead to dehydration and kill within hours if left untreated. People with low immunity – such as malnourished children or people living with HIV – are at a greater risk of death if infected.

The symptoms of cholera include diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, and severe dehydration. Diarrhoea due to cholera often has a pale, milky appearance that resembles water in which rice has been rinsed, also known as rice-water stool.

The signs and symptoms of cholera in children are similar to adults but they may also experience fever, extreme drowsiness, convulsions or even coma. Only about 1 in 10 infected people develop the typical signs and symptoms of cholera, usually within a few days of infection.

The disease is most common in places with poor sanitation, urbanisation, conflict zones and famine. Effective ways to protect yourself are using water that has been boiled, water that has been chemically treated, or bottled water.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Cholera remains a global threat to public health and an indicator of inequity and lack of social development. Researchers have estimated that every year, there are roughly 1.3 to 4.0 million cases, and 21 000 to ‪143 000‬ deaths worldwide due to cholera (1).

The cholera outbreak in the WHO African Region has affected 18 countries over the last two years. Five countries are categorised as being in acute crisis (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), though there has been sustained decrease in weekly case incidence in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The southern region of the continent, now in the rainy season, is experiencing resurging outbreaks. The increase in rainfall levels is causing floods and landslides in communities. This raises the risk of outbreaks in countries that have not reported new confirmed cases. The seasonality of cholera outbreaks is an issue for countries to consider. They need to improve preparedness and readiness, heighten surveillance, and scale up preventive and control measures in communities and around border crossings. This will prevent outbreaks, engender early response and reduce cross-border transmission.