How unregistered tiger nut drink sparked cholera outbreak in Lagos

Lagos is battling a cholera outbreak with the death toll standing at 24 as at the last count, but the cause has been traced to an unregistered tiger nut drink.

How unregistered tiger nut drinks sparked cholera outbreak in Lagos

Dr Kemi Ogunyemi, the Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Health, revealed this in an interview with Punch.

Nigeria has witnessed a resurgence of cholera outbreak in the last month with confirmed cases and casualty figures on the rise in 30 affected states.

Lagos is the epicentre of the bacterial disease, with three local governments in particular, Lagos Island, Kosofe, and Eti-Osa, responsible for over 50% of reported cases.

As of Friday, June 21, 2024, 24 deaths have been recorded from 35 confirmed cases and 417 suspected cases across the state.

Cholera can be triggered by numerous factors, including contaminated food and water and investigation by the state government revealed a common denominator among infected people in the three aforementioned local government areas.

According to Ogunyemi, the government discovered that affected persons drank tiger nut drinks before being diagnosed with the disease.

A further probe was carried out to test the drink and ascertain the claims of the patients.

“We couldn’t just take their word for it, so we had to take that drink and test it to see what was in it. We immediately sent people out to look for those selling it so we could take a sample," she said.

However, the government couldn't locate the producer of the drink as the information on the empty bottles collected showed that the product doesn't have the certification of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

"We found empty bottles with a name on them, but we discovered that it wasn’t even registered with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, the regulatory body that ensures the safety of consumables.

“There was a phone number and a name on the bottle, and we started tracing. We did contact tracing, similar to what we did with COVID-19. We combed the area to ask people where they got the drinks from. We couldn’t find any full bottles. We only found empty ones, which were of no use because we could not test them,” Ogunyemi said.

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