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Mysterious illness kills 8 people in Sokoto - no one can explain why

The illness manifests symptoms like abdominal distension, fever, vomiting and weight loss, affecting children aged four to 13, along with some adults.

Mysterious illness kills 8 people in Sokoto - no one can explain why [The Guardian Nigeria]

Dr Ibrahim Usman, Center Manager of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in Sokoto made this known in his presentation during an interactive session with officials of Sokoto State Ministry of Health and NCDC Director General, Dr Jide Idris, alongside his team on Thursday in Sokoto.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the incident occurred in Sabon Birni and Isa local government areas of the state. Usman said prompt control measures were ensured by the NCDC and Sokoto State Government as samples were transported to higher laboratories for tests to ascertain the disease.

“The illness manifested with symptoms such as abdominal distension, fever, vomiting and weight loss, primarily affecting children aged four to 13, along with some adults.

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“Already, the NCDC has deployed a National Rapid Response Team (NRRT), to collaborate with the State Ministry of Health to investigate the matter,” Usman said.

He added that the affected children were taken to Specialist Hospital in Sokoto for treatment, while residents of the affected areas were sensitised to the dangers of the mysterious illness and advised to report cases promptly.

According to him, interim results indicate varying levels of lead and chromium in blood samples, prompting scrutiny of local activities such as mining and agricultural practices involving chemical usage.

“The collaborative efforts extend beyond health institutions, encompassing government agencies, research bodies and community stakeholders,” he stated.

He commended the efforts of Medical Doctors and other healthcare personnel in containing the spread as well as treatment of affected persons, “who are now responding to treatment.”

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Earlier, Dr Larai Tambuwal, Executive Secretary, of Sokoto State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (SSPHCDA) told the visiting team that complications from agricultural practices were being suspected.

She said other considerations should also be centred on climatic conditions, security challenges, sources of water, open dedication, poor healthcare response, malnutrition and other surrounding issues.

“This is not the first occurrence, as a similar incident occured in Tureta local government area of the state and was documented in 2023 without a conclusive diagnosis,” she added.

She added that with similar occurrences in neighbouring Zamfara state, there was a need for more clinical assessment to obtain the real outcome of the infectious origins.

The Executive Director of Sokoto State Hospital Services Management Board, Dr Bello Attahiru, assured of more proactive measures to contain the disease and treatment of those infected. Attahiru said a ward was allocated for victims of the illness alone in the hospital and many were recuperating.

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In his address, NCDC Director General said that the search for causative factors continued, including heavy metal testing and assured to establish a standard laboratory located in Sokoto state.

While the investigation into the disease continued, the DG solicited more vigilance within affected communities. Idris stressed the need for prompt reporting of symptoms to healthcare facilities or designated authorities.

According to him, NSCDC is collaborating with other agencies such as NAFDAC to unravel the disease to argue treatment towards preventing its spread.

He said all areas were being considered for unravelling the cause of the illness and enjoined people to enhance their healthcare-seeking behaviours, improve on their hygiene, surrounding cleanliness and other health issues.

The Director General explained that his coming to Sokoto was part of the Federal Government’s commitment to provide succour to the victims and end the menace. He also extended his condolences to the families affected by the outbreak and commended the dedication of healthcare workers and partnering organisations.

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NAN reports that Idris and his team paid visits to the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar and Gov. Ahmed Aliyu of Sokoto state and commiserated with them over the ugly development.

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