Kogi state government has confirmed the outbreak of a strange disease that claimed over 50 lives in Okunran, Okoloke and Isanlu-Esa all in Yagba West, local government area of the state.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Saka Haruna, who disclosed this when he visited the affected villages on Wednesday, however said that with investigations carried out on some victims the disease is not what was earlier suspected to be the dreaded lassa fever.
He explained that information of the outbreak of the epidemic was received last week and government promptly sent a technical team to take samples from affected persons and sent to the general hospital, Irua in Edo state for definitive investigation and the result indicated that the disease is not lassa fever.
Dr. Haruna said that as part of the measures to curtail the spread of the disease, government is taking responsibility of those that have been healed.
“We are here to assess the situation about the incidence that had claimed the lives of so many people in this community and surrounding villages.
“As part of the policies of this Government, irrespective of the remote location of the community; we must make sure that we take health care to the door steps of the rural dwellers.
“We are here to make sure we determine the cause of this mysterious deaths and then quickly profer a solution to it,” he said.
He assured the people that government will carry out further investigation with the available information at its disposal.
He added “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.”
A Consultant at Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) Hospital Egbe, Dr. Jannette Hathorn, said a child of two and half years was brought to the hospital which later died after 12 hours.
The consultant explained to the commissioner that they had misleading news about patients bleeding around, and tried to make 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.
“Two other adult patients were also brought, one presented with ulcer-viral illness but there was no bleeding component of any hemorrhagic symptom,” Harthon further explained
“But our concern was another parent who brought a 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 other children in the last three weeks.
She therefore called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) and relevant organisations to immediately come to the aid of the local and state government to know exactly the cause of the strange ailment.
The traditional ruler of the Community, Oba J.D Ogunyanda, the Obalohun of Okoloke, appreciated the commissioner for coming to see them in spite of the difficulty in getting to their communities and the neighboring Fulani settlements.
According to him, the settlements are the major hit including some of his people of the host community
He said that 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 Settlement, Damina Ibrahim, told newsmen that the outbreak started about three weeks ago and mostly children and adult were affected.
Ibrahim said that they were stooling and vomiting with stain of blood, and hot temperature, saying they were using herbs to treat then at first.
He explained further that when that started recording too many deaths, they rushed to the hospital, where the doctors could not ascertain the cause of their illness, saying some of them died in the hospital while some were discharged without any cure.