Dozens die as yellow fever returns

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By Adekunle Yusuf

With Coronavirus infections still wreaking havoc in the country, another serious public health crisis seems to have crept in like a thief in the night, killing dozens in different parts of Nigeria. What authorities initially claimed to be a strange ailment, now known to be yellow fever, has killed over 50 lives in different parts of the Enugu States since September when it began spreading undetected in the communities.

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The strange ailment has since been confirmed by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as yellow fever, an acute viral haemorrhagic disease that can kill within 10 days if symptoms become severe. Apart from Enugu, authorities in Delta State have also confirmed that the strange disease ravaging the state is yellow fever.

According to the Health Commissioner in Delta State, Dr. Mordi Ononye, yellow fever has claimed about 22 lives already in the state. “The preliminary sample test carried out linked the mysterious death to yellow fever. Samples have been sent to the World Health Organisation Regional Reference Laboratory Center in Dakar, Senegal, for further confirmation. We are taking steps to prevent the incident from escalating. The disease had claimed about 20 cases with over seven active cases being attended to at the Federal Medical Hospital, Asaba.’’

In Bauchi State, yellow fever has killed 8 people in the Ganjuwa Local Government Area of Bauchi State; while that eight others are receiving treatment, according to the Executive Chairman of Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed. He said the samples of some patients were taken and the result confirmed that they had yellow fever. “One of our supervisors went to the local government for polio immunisation and found out that the eyes of some were yellow, as well as their urine. When the samples were taken and examined, it was confirmed that they had had yellow fever. However, those who died were not confirmed positive for yellow fever.”

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According to NCDC director-general, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Delta notified the NCDC about cases presenting with symptoms of yellow fever on November 2, while Enugu State followed suit on November 3. Most of the cases had symptoms including fever, headache, fatigue, jaundice, and vomiting (with or without blood), he said. “As of November 6, three samples from Delta and one sample from Enugu State tested positive for Yellow Fever at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital Laboratory in Edo and the NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory in Abuja.”

Ihekweazu said the NCDC had activated an incident management system to coordinate response activities and had sent Rapid Response Teams to the two states. “They are carrying out active case searches, risk communications, and community engagement as well as ensuring prompt management of cases, while our sister agency, the NPHCDA is planning a vaccination campaign.” Since September 2017, the viral infection has continually hit many states in the country, with thousands of infections recorded yearly during outbreaks in Kwara, Ebonyi, Cross River, Benue, Gombe, Sokoto, Kastina, Yobe, Kogi, Osun, Edo, Bauchi, Borno, and Kano.