Government urges calm as ‘strange’ disease kills dozens in Enugu

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State

The Enugu State Government, on Thursday, confirmed many deaths from a yet unidentified disease in Ette Uno and Umuopu in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of the state.

The two communities have recorded scores of deaths since September following the outbreak of the ‘strange’ disease.

A health officer in the area put the death toll at over 50, adding that specimen had been collected for proper diagnosis and treatment of other patients.

The disease, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, broke out at Ette early September and spread to the border community of Umuopu, where 20 persons have died, including four on Wednesday.

The source explained that the victims presented symptoms such as convulsion and diarrhoea before vomiting blood, adding that they are suspecting Lassa fever or cholera.

“Between September and now, at least 37 persons have died in Ette. Also, Umuopu, which shares a common border with Ette, has recorded 20 deaths, four of which happened yesterday. It has been a strange development.

“The state Ministry of Health has been notified and investigations are currently ongoing to unravel the cause of the deaths. We have collected samples from the affected persons and we are looking out for Lassa fever, cholera, yellow fever and meningitis. Coronavirus tests will equally start in the affected communities today.

“The state’s Ministry of Health has brought an ambulance we are using to convey the sick ones to Enugu for proper diagnosis and treatment,” the source, who pleaded anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said.

The source further said that a 30-year-old student of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Chinedu Oyiga, 40-year-old Emeka Elugwu Onu, and 47-year-old Simon Eze were among the 20 casualties at Umuopu community

The chairman of the local government area, Ejike Itodo, said he has held a meeting of stakeholders to begin a thorough enlightenment campaign in the area on the strange disease.

He assured the affected communities that the situation would be brought under control as health workers are working assiduously to ensure that more casualties are not recorded.

The state Commissioner for Health, Ikechukwu Obi, in a statement, said the State Rapid Response Team of the ministry had visited the council area and met with its Rapid Response Team.

 

He, however, did not give the number of deaths so far recorded.

He said that samples of patients had been collected and sent to the National Reference Laboratory to find out the cause of the deaths.

“On-the-spot check and outbreak investigation had revealed a number of deaths from an illness with symptoms suggestive of a disease of Public Health Importance,” he said

He said that the Ministry of Health had informed the National Centre for Disease Control “and is collaborating with the Enugu State Ministry of Health at the local government to investigate and control”.

He assured residents that the ministry was on top of the situation and would give regular updates on the situation report.

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