• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Strange illness in Sokoto, Zamfara claims 7 lives

Strange illness in Sokoto, Zamfara claims 7 lives

A disease of unknown origin which recently broke out in Sokoto State has spread to Zamfara, with the number of deaths put at seven, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Following reports of similar cases in Zamfara State, Jide Idris, the director-general of the NCDC, hosted an emergency meeting with the commissioners for health from Sokoto and Kaduna states on April 16, 2024, at NCDC’s headquarters in Abuja.

Idris also had discussions with the Zamfara State commissioner for health to unravel the cause as well as contain and mitigate the impact of the strange disease in the affected states.

As of Thursday, April 18, a total of 196 suspected cases of the unknown illness with seven deaths have been reported across Isa, Sabon Birni, and Ilella Local Government Areas of Sokoto State.

Though the NCDC confirmed that the illness was not infectious, it, however, informed that the investigation was ongoing and the results of the analyses on the various samples sent to the different sister laboratories, including NIPRID, NAFDAC and NIMR were being awaited.

The centre had recently disclosed that the results of the initial test for heavy metals for the index and the first few suspected cases revealed different blood levels of lead and chromium, adding that these metals, along with mercury, were emitted mainly into the air as a result of various industrial activities, including mining.

It explained that exposure to heavy metals either through the air (dust), soil, plants or water was associated with kidney, brain, liver, and bone damage including cancers of the body depending on the type of heavy metals.

The centre warned that persons most at risk or vulnerable include pregnant women (their unborn babies), infants and children, illegal/ artisanal miners, industrial workers etc.

“To avoid exposure to heavy metals, people who live where mining activities take place are advised to avoid mining sites while those who work in the mining industry are to wear protective clothing and masks to minimise direct exposure”, the NCDC warned.

The centre said another National Rapid Response Team (NRRT) would be deployed to assess the situation and provide support for the state.

“We urge affected and nearby communities even in Kaduna, given its proximity to Sokoto and Zamfara states, to report any symptoms, including fever, abdominal swelling and pain, vomiting, and weight loss to the nearest health facility or call NCDC toll-free line (6232).