• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Dozens of cholera cases reported in Lagos

Cholera: Lagos records reduced daily cases

…Expert advise comprehensive measures to mitigate spread

The Lagos State voiced concern on after dozens of cases of severe gastroenteritis had been reported in communities around Eti-Osa, Lagos Island, Ikorodu, and Kosofe Local Government Areas (LGAs).

Lagos State said these cases have resulted in approximately 60 hospital admissions and, tragically, five deaths, primarily due to patients presenting late with extreme dehydration.

“We have activated a statewide heightened surveillance and response,” Akin Abayomi, Lagos State Commissioner for Health stated.

“We suspect a potential 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.”

Read also: Cholera: Nigeria must prevent spread in schools—UNICEF

Recent rains have contributed to a noticeable increase in cases of severe vomiting and watery stools in Lagos State. Urban slums and crowded areas with poor sanitation are particularly at risk.

Abayomi said that cholera is a highly contagious disease that can cause severe diarrhea and be life-threatening. It poses a significant health burden in areas with poor water treatment and sanitation and could severely 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 handwashing,” he explained.

“Symptoms of cholera include severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, rapid dehydration, muscle cramps, fever, and sometimes collapse.”

Treatment options for cholera primarily involve rehydration. For mild to moderate dehydration, Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) are used. Intravenous fluids are administered to severely dehydrated patients in medical facilities under the supervision of medical personnel.

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

Practicing good hygiene, such as regular handwashing with soap and clean water, especially before eating, preparing food, and after using the toilet, is essential.

He also emphasized the importance of following food safety guidelines.

Meanwhile, the data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control NCDC showed that from January 1 to June 11, 2024, Nigeria reported 1,141 suspected cholera cases, 65 confirmed cases, and 14 deaths across 96 local governments in 30 states.

Ten states contributed 90% of the total numbers: Abia, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Imo, Katsina, Nasarawa, and lately Lagos.

Doyin Odubanjo, public health expert in Lagos commented on the cholera outbreak in Lagos State stressed the urgency and gravity of the situation, emphasizing the need for immediate and comprehensive measures to mitigate the spread of the disease.

Read also: Lagos Island epicentre of Lagos cholera outbreak — Official

“The cholera outbreak in Lagos State is a significant public health concern,” Odubanjo remarked. “The combination of recent heavy rains and inadequate sanitation infrastructure has created a perfect storm for the spread of this highly contagious disease. Urban slums and crowded areas are particularly vulnerable, highlighting the systemic challenges we face.”

Odubanjo pointed out the critical areas that need addressing to control the outbreak.

“First and foremost, we need to ensure that clean water is available to all residents. This can be achieved through emergency water purification measures and ensuring that water sources are not contaminated.

“The cholera outbreak in Lagos State reflects the urgent need for robust water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure,” Odubanjo stated.

“The rapid urbanization and dense population of Lagos make it particularly vulnerable to waterborne diseases like cholera. The recent rains have exacerbated the situation by increasing the likelihood of water contamination in overcrowded areas with poor sanitation.”

“Public education is also crucial. People need to understand the importance of boiling water, using water purification tablets, and maintaining high standards of personal hygiene, especially handwashing with soap.”

Odubanjo emphasized the importance of infrastructure development as a long-term solution.

“While immediate response is necessary, we must also invest in sustainable improvements in our water and sanitation infrastructure. This will help prevent future outbreaks and protect public health.

The public health expert noted the resilience and potential of the community to overcome the crisis. “With coordinated efforts, public cooperation, and sustained investment in health infrastructure, we can control this outbreak and build a stronger, healthier Lagos.

“It’s a challenging time, but it’s also an opportunity to address long-standing issues and improve our public health systems.”

“The Lagos State Government, in collaboration with agencies like UNICEF and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), must work together to deploy resources effectively.

“This includes setting up treatment centers, distributing rehydration solutions, and mobilising health workers for community outreach.

“This outbreak is a reminder that sustained efforts and investment are needed to protect public health and prevent future occurrences.”

However, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) data underscores the severity of cholera outbreaks in Nigeria.

In 2023, the country reported thousands of cases, with children under five being particularly vulnerable.

The organisation has been at the forefront of efforts to mitigate the impact of such outbreaks through the provision of clean water, sanitation facilities, and health education.

Read also: Cholera: Children facing substantial health risks – UNICEF

The Lagos State Government’s response to the current outbreak has involved multiple agencies and a multi-faceted approach. By activating heightened surveillance, investigating potential contamination sources, and emphasizing preventive measures, authorities aim to control and eventually eliminate the outbreak.

Lagos State commissioner said “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.

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.

He 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, Abayomi promised to keep the public informed and restated the commitment of the Government of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to ensuring the health and well-being of its citizens.

“We urge everyone to adopt these preventive measures and report any suspected cases promptly to safeguard our communities,” he stated.