At least 50 people have been killed in the last three weeks by an unconfirmed ailment in three communities in Kogi State, the state government has announced.
The affected areas are Okunran, Okoloke and Isanlu-Esa in Yagba West local government area of the state.
The state health commissioner Dr Saka Audu said during a visit to the affected communities to assess the situation, that a technical team was earlier sent to take samples which were sent to General Hospital Irua, Edo State, for investigation.
“From this stage now, the government has taken full responsibility to take care of those who are already ill and to make sure that we arrest the spread of this disease,”
Authorities in neighbouring Kwara State are also investigating reports of an outbreak which allegedly claimed some lives in Oro-Ago community in Ifelodun local government area of the state.
“We are going further to find out what the real cause may be. We don’t know what it is currently, but all hands are on deck to make sure that we find out the definitive cause of the mysterious deaths among the kids.”
The Oloro of Oro-Ago, Oba Tafa Dada and the President of Oro-Ago Development Union, Mr Olaniyi Olushola raised the alarm of the strange illness that hit some members of the community, especially the herdsmen which they said claimed many lives.
He said, “It has been confirmed that it is not Lassa fever, but whatever it is, we will carry out a further investigation with information we have with us now and come up with a definite diagnosis.
Children and elderly most affected
A consultant at the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) Hospital Egbe, Dr Jannette Hathorn, told Daily Trust that a child of two-and-a-half years was brought to the hospital which later died after 12 hours.
“We had definitely had a misleading news about patients bleeding around, so we tried to make a diagnosis for viral hemorrhagic fever (Lassa fever), but the lab results came out negative.
“We are sure it is not Lassa fever but on the other hand, our concern is that we do not know exactly the cause of what was happening. We had a differential but we never came to a definitive diagnosis,” she said.
The doctor said two other adult patients were also brought, one presented with ulcer-viral illness but there was no bleeding component of any hemorrhagic symptom.
“We isolated them and both of them were treated for malaria. So, when they started improving, we let them go,” she said.
“But our concern was another parent who brought their child to the hospital and pleaded with us for help that about 40 to 50 people had died in their villages with similar symptoms as their child in the last three weeks.
“So, we called the World Health Organisation (WHO) and our local state person, who came after the child had died yesterday to take the samples of everything; we must know exactly what we are dealing with,” she said.
A community leader, Oba J.D Ogunyanda, said the outbreak started over three weeks ago, and they immediately alerted the local government administrator to come to their aid.
The leader of the Fulani community, Damina Ibrahim, said that the outbreak which started about three weeks ago affected mostly children and adults, who were said to be stooling and vomiting.
He explained further that when death tolls increased, the victims were rushed to the hospital, where the doctors could not ascertain the cause of their illness. “Some of them died in the hospital while some were discharged without any cure, “Ibrahim said.
He added that over 50 people had died since the outbreak of the strange ailment, and appealed for urgent efforts to address the epidemic.