Strange disease: Why NCDC Chief met with Sokoto, Zamfara Officials

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 The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), said it convened an emergency meeting with the Commissioners for Health from Sokoto, Kaduna, and Zamfara states to address the ongoing unknown illness affecting communities in Sokoto and Zamfara states.

The NCDC Director-General, Dr Jide Idris, said that the meeting was held on April 16, 2024, during which the Commissioners provided updates on response efforts and discussed further measures to contain and mitigate the suspected disease, linked to heavy metal poisoning from mining activities.

He said that they had earlier announced the investigation of the strange illness identified in six wards in Sokoto State on April 9.

“Following this, the agency deployed a National Rapid Response Team to collaborate with the Sokoto State Ministry of Health to address the incidents.

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“Initial clinical assessments and investigations ruled out an infectious origin, prompting a search for alternative causes.

“Subsequent tests revealed varying blood levels of lead and chromium among the affected individuals, indicating possible heavy metal contamination associated with industrial activities, including mining.

“As of the latest report, a total of 196 suspected cases with seven deaths have been reported across Isa, Sabon Birni, and Ilella Local Government Areas of Sokoto State,” he said.

He urged healthcare workers and affected communities to report any symptoms, including fever, abdominal swelling and pain, vomiting, and weight loss, to the nearest health facility or call NCDC’s toll-free line.

While committed to containing the incidents effectively, he emphasised the importance of regulating mining activities and enforcing standards to prevent future occurrences.

He pledged to provide updates to the public as new information becomes available.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that no fewer than eight lives have been lost out of 208 suspected cases of the strange illness at Sabon Birni and Isa local government areas of Sokoto State.

NCDC Centre manager in Sokoto, Dr Ibrahim Usman, who made the presentation, said the NCDC and the Sokoto State Government have collected samples that have been transported to laboratories for test to ascertain the disease.

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

“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 on the dangers of the mysterious illness and advised to report cases promptly. (NAN)

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