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NCDC Raises Alarm On Outbreak Of Strange Disease In Sokoto State

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has confirmed the outbreak of a disease of unknown origin which is said to have infected a total of 164 persons and killed four in six wards of Isa local government area of Sokoto State. The director general of the agency, Dr Jide Idris, said so far, a total of 164 suspected cases had been identified in six (6) wards of Isa local government area in the following wards: Bargaja (22), Isa North (17), Isa South (98), Tozai (12), Tsabre (4), and Turba (11), adding that four deaths had been recorded amongst the suspected cases. He said the agency was notified by the Sokoto State Ministry of Health on March 21, 2024, of reported cases of children presenting with symptoms that include abdominal distension due to rapid onset of fluids in the abdomen (ascites), fever, vomiting and weight loss from Isa LGA of Sokoto State.

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

Idris informed that two suspected cases are currently receiving care in Uthman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital (UDUTH) in Sokoto and one case discharged on account of improved symptoms, adding that four other suspected cases are also on admission at the Isa General Hospital.

He said about 130 cases are also receiving care either within the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) or home care in the affected LGA.

The NCDC director general said initial clinical assessment and investigations of the cases admitted at the teaching hospital ruled out an infectious origin of the event, necessitating the need to search for other causes, including heavy metal testing.

Idris said that 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).

He further said that the results of test received yesterday showed high levels of lead in the blood of the affected cases, adding that other test were still being carried out to determine the disease.

The DG urged members of the affected and nearby communities to be vigilant and report anyone presenting with the stated symptoms to the nearest health facilities close to them or call NCDC toll free line.