JUST IN: Sokoto strange illness claims four, 164 cases reported

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention ( NCDC ) has reassured the public over the outbreak of a strange illness in Sokoto State last month....READ FULL ARTICLE

Although the cause of the illness, which has resulted in four fatalities out of 164 reported cases, remains unknown, the agency’s Director General (DG), Jide Idris, stated that initial investigations indicated the disease is non-infectious and localised solely to Isa Local Government Area (LGA) in Sokoto State.

He said while there’s no immediate cause for alarm regarding the disease’s transmission, even a single death is worrisome, which prompted the NCDC to broaden its collaboration, engaging external sister agencies, as well as the National Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) in addressing the Sokoto mystery illness.

He further added that two suspected cases are under treatment at Uthman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital (UDUTH), Sokoto with one patient discharged due to improved symptoms.

He stated four additional suspected cases are hospitalised at Isa General Hospital aside from approximately 130 cases receiving treatment either at Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) or through home care within the affected LGA.

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During a media briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, the DG confirmed that the agency and the Sokoto State Ministry of Health promptly responded to the reported outbreak.

According to him: “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) was notified by the Sokoto State Ministry of Health on March 21, 2024, of reported cases of children presenting with symptoms which include abdominal distension due to rapid onset of fluids in the abdomen (ascites), fever, vomiting and weight loss from Isa Local Government Area of Sokoto State.

“Most of these cases are children aged 4–13 years, including some adults. The patients came from different wards and settlements across the LGA.

“The NCDC deployed a National Rapid Response Team (NRRT) to work with the State Ministry of Health to further investigate and respond to this incident.

“So far, a total of 164 suspected cases have been identified in six wards of Isa LGA Bargaja (22), Isa North (17), Isa South (98), Tozai (12), Tsabre (4), and Turba (11).

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“Unfortunately four deaths have been recorded amongst the suspected cases. A similar incident was previously documented in 2023, also without a definitive diagnosis.

“Initial clinical assessment and investigations of the cases admitted at the Teaching Hospital ruled out an infectious origin of this event, necessitating the need to search for other causes, including heavy metal testing. Results of the initial test for heavy metals for the index and first few suspected cases revealed different blood levels of lead (Pb) and Chromium (Cr)”.

For a comprehensive analysis, Idris said the investigative team observed activities in the affected communities including mining, agricultural practices which involve the use of various types of chemicals and pesticides, and the health-seeking behaviour and practices of the communities which may be detrimental to people’s health.

“In this regard, various samples of materials have also been taken and dispatched for analyses, including blood, abdominal fluids, environmental samples like soil and water, locally grown food produce including vegetables and grains, substances and ingredients used for food and drinks, pesticides and chemicals used in local guns.

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“The NCDC is working in collaboration with other stakeholders to support the State Government in actively searching for cases and unravelling this outbreak, in spite of the security challenges affecting access to the community.

“These include the Teaching hospital, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), the State Ministry of Health, various Health workers, the Sokoto State Water Board, and other MDAs”, Idris noted.

While sympathizing with the families of the deceased who have lost their loved ones to the disease, urged the people in the affected and nearby communities to be vigilant and report anyone presenting with the identified symptoms to the nearest health facilities to them or call NCDC toll free line (6232).

Healthcare workers were also urged to report any suspected cases to LGA/State Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer or State Epidemiologist...READ FULL ARTICLE