NCDC Probes Mysterious Illness in Sokoto State

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By Edward Samuel, Abuja

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), says is currently investigating a peculiar illness that has surfaced in six wards of Sokoto state.

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The Director-General, NCDC, Dr. Jide Idris disclosed that the agency has swiftly initiated response measures by deploying a National Rapid Response Team to collaborate with the Sokoto State Ministry of Health in addressing the situation.

During a press conference held in Abuja, Dr. Idris revealed that the NCDC was alerted by the state ministry of health on March 21, 2024, regarding cases primarily affecting children in Isa Local Government Area.

“Symptoms reported include abdominal distension, fever, vomiting, and weight loss.

“Most of the reported cases involve children aged 4 to 13 years, with some adults also affected across various wards and settlements within the LGA.

“A total of 164 suspected cases have been identified in six wards of Isa LGA, resulting in four fatalities. The NCDC team is currently coordinating efforts to investigate and respond to the outbreak,” he said.

Dr. Idris noted similarities with a previous incident in 2023, which also lacked a definitive diagnosis, emphasizing the urgency of the current investigation.

“As part of the response efforts, suspected cases are receiving medical attention in both Uthman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital and Isa General Hospital, with ongoing monitoring and care within affected communities.

“Initial assessments have ruled out an infectious origin, prompting investigations into other potential causes, including heavy metal poisoning. Blood tests from the index cases revealed elevated levels of lead and chromium.

“Factors such as mining activities, agricultural practices, and health-seeking behaviors are being examined for potential links to the outbreak. Samples from various sources, including environmental and food samples, are being analyzed for further insights.”

Dr. Idris said that despite security challenges hindering access to affected communities, the NCDC, in collaboration with stakeholders, remains committed to supporting the state government in containing the outbreak and safeguarding public health.

He urged residents of affected and nearby communities to remain vigilant and report any suspicious symptoms promptly to local health facilities or via the NCDC toll-free line, 6232.

As investigations continue, the NCDC emphasizes the importance of collective vigilance and cooperation in mitigating the spread of the illness and ensuring the well-being of affected communities.

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