Outbreak Of Gastroenteritis Kills 11 People In Lagos, 370 Others Saved

The Lagos State Government has confirmed that the outbreak of
Gastroenteritis has killed 11 people in the state while 370 others were
saved from death.    

Gastroenteritis is caused by micro-organisms like those causing
typhoid fever, cholera and certain viruses. It can be contacted by
eating or drinking contaminated foods such as uncooked seafood. Patients
with gastroenteritis present with severe acute watery diarrhea and
profuse vomiting. Those infected with micro-organisms causing the
disease shows signs and symptoms within 12 hours to one week after
ingesting contaminated food or water.

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The disease affects both children and adult and can kill within hours
if untreated. Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi in a
statement on Friday disclosed that 400 cases of the disease had been
recorded in some Local Government Areas of the state, with 370 cases
treated and discharged, saying there was no cause for alarm as
government was on top of the situation.

“As at today, 400 cases of gastroenteritis have been recorded in
health facilities in the affected LGAS. 370 of these cases have been
treated and discharged. Unfortunately, we have also recorded 11 deaths
due to the outbreak. The increase in number of cases of gastroenteritis
is not unconnected with persistent rain with flooding of some LGAs in
the State,” he said.

The commissioner also said the attention of the government had been
drawn to some misleading, alarming and sensational reports, especially
on some social media platforms about the outbreak of Gastroenteritis
that was experienced in the State in the past weeks.

He said of great concern was a voice note currently circulating on
Whatsapp which emanated from an unidentified individual purportedly
linked to one of its health facilities misinforming the public about the
alarming deaths rate occasioned by the disease, thus creating fear.

“This, we believe is the handiwork of mischief makers with an intent
to deliberately cause panic amongst the populace While we appeal for
calm, it is pertinent to note that these misleading reports are made up,
spurious, incorrect and do not represent fact. Citizens are hereby
advised to disregard any news about the disease that did not emanate
from the official communication channels of the Lagos State Government,
the Ministry of Health or it officials.

“It is true that an excess increase in the cases of Gastroenteritis
was reported in some local government areas (LGAs) particularly in Lagos
Island, Surulere, Mushin and Ajeromi since mid-October. This is now
under control as a result of the policies and interventions that we have
put in place and I want to assure you that we are on top of the
situation,” he stated.

According to Abayomi, following the report of the outbreak, Rapid
Response Teams at the affected LGAs led by the Medical Officers of
Health were activated, stool specimen were collected for laboratory test
to confirm the micro-organism causing the vomiting and diarrhea while
surveillance had also been scaled up in communities within the affected
LGAs to stop the spread of the infection.

“We have been able to send some samples to our laboratories and some
of those samples tested positive for a type of cholera but we are not
sure whether cholera is responsible for the entire outbreak of diarrhea
and vomiting but we are sending some other samples to other laboratories
and we are going to do some in-depth analysis to see whether this is
just a case of cholera or whether there are other pathogens or agents
that are contributing to this outbreak  

“We have been very proactive in our response and management of the
excess cases of vomiting and diarrhea occasioned by the outbreak. As
part of our response, we have activated an emergency operation centre
(EOC) which is a command and control centre so that we can fine tune
logistics and resources around our response against the outbreak,” he
added.

Abayomi said since the activation, the EOC which is made up of
representatives from the Ministry of Health, Primary Health Care Board,
Health Service Commission, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency
(LASEPA), World Health Organization and Central Public Health Laboratory
among others had been meeting on a daily basis; collating results,
reviewing plans and interventions as well as suggesting and coordinating
the implementation of measures to effectively curtail the spread of the
disease and manage future occurrences promptly and effectively.

“The EOC is made up of sub thematic areas of research, surveillance,
case management and infection control, laboratory, communication and
advocacy, pharmacy, security as well as logistics and data management.
Also, our disease surveillance officers at the State and local
government levels are currently carrying out intensive surveillance to
stop the spread of the disease.  

“We have also put in place and still carrying out some measures and
specific action plans like upgrade of infrastructure in our health
facilities especially the PHC level; recruitment of more health workers;
increasing the supply of drugs and consumables to health facilities;
continuous clearing of drains and improving the supply of clean and
portable water to residents, so that in the future, when we have this
climatic situation where there are excessive rains, we should be in
better position to respond very quickly even in a very more efficacious
way.  

“Although, Lagos is prone to seasonal infectious diseases like
gastroenteritis because of its demography and low line megacity nature,
we will however not relent in our effort to respond to any water born or
airborne outbreaks that may happen in our State whilst ensuring that
citizens remain safe and healthy,” he said.

Abayomi advised members of the public to take precautionary measures
by paying due attention to personal hygiene and environmental sanitation
by keeping their environment clean, avoiding open defecation, ensuring
drains are clean and imbibe the culture of regular hand washing.  

He encouraged Lagosians to wash their hands with soaps and water
frequently and thoroughly, and also boil their water before drinking,
especially if the source was in doubts, adding that “wash fruits and
vegetables thoroughly before eating; cook food thoroughly and dispose
waste material properly. You are advised to visit nearest health
facilities early when you are sick and avoid going to work or school
where you are likely to infect others.

“Health workers are also advised to take universal safety precautions
when dealing with patients, practice good hand washing techniques and
report any alarming increase in cases of gastroenteritis-vomiting and
diarrhea to the Medical Officer of Health in their local government or
the Directorate of Disease Control.

“For reports, clarification and more information on the outbreak of
gastroenteritis, citizens and health workers can contact the Directorate
of Disease Control through these lines: 08023169485 and 08023608195.”

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