The Lagos State Government has reiterated the need for members of the public to observe and maintain adequate personal and environmental hygiene at all times as part of measures to prevent the spread of the cholera epidemic, which has been detected in the state.
Deaths have been recorded in Plateau and Sokoto States as a result of cholera infection.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, who confirmed the spread of the deadly disease to the state on Wednesday, said efforts were being made to curb the spread of the disease.
Idris noted that the need to ensure high standard of hygiene at all times cannot be overemphasized, especially following the reported outbreak of the disease in the state.
He said: “Although, many of the cases have been treated and discharged in several health facilities, three have been confirmed dead.
“Most of the suspected cases are from Ajeromi, Apapa, Lagos Island, Oshodi-Isolo and Surulere local government areas of the state.”
Idris explained that surveillance activities and investigations by his Ministry has revealed that the suspected cases were contracted from food sources such as the African food, salad, popularly called ‘Abasha’; well-water sources, especially in areas like Ikare community, Amuwo-odofin Local Government Area and Badia area of Apapa Local Government Area; and other infected foods from food sellers and unhygienic habits.
The commissioner, while urging members of the public to be vigilant and report any suspected case, dead or alive, to the nearest health facility and the directorate of disease control in the state Ministry of Health, noted that cholera is an acute contagious bacterial disease that is characterized by severe form of sudden onset of profuse painless watery stools, nausea and profuse vomiting.
He added that cholera is acquired through the ingestion of an infective dose of contaminated food or water and can be transmitted through many mechanisms like direct or indirect contamination of water or food by feaces of infected individuals.
Idris said: “Cholera should be suspected in any person who develops diarrhoea with or without vomiting, weakness, restlessness, irritability, dry mucous membrane, low blood pressure, leg cramps, excessive loss of body fluids (dehydration) or dies from frequent stooling.
“Hence, adequate measures should be taken in order to reduce the risk of contracting the disease.”
The commissioner listed measures to be taken to reduce the risk of contracting the disease as including washing of hands with soaps and water frequently and thoroughly; boiling of water before drinking if the source of the water is in doubt; washing of fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating; cooking of food thoroughly before eating; disposing of waste material properly; and keeping of water containers clean.
Idris pointed out that in the case of suspected cholera, members of the public should prepare oral rehydration solution (10 level teaspoonful of sugar and one level teaspoonful of salt in two 35cl bottles), give the suspect a lot of fluids to drink, keep giving the suspect food as soon as it can be tolerated and thereafter visit the nearest hospital whether the condition of the suspect improves or not.
He said: “In developing countries like ours, cholera is either endemic or a recurring problem because conditions leading to epidemics exist, including presence of peri-urban slums and lack of basic infrastructure.
“Outbreak of cholera can also occur on seasonal basis in endemic areas.”
The commissioner advised members of the public to ensure they avoid possible back flow connection between water and sewer system and stressed the need to boil water before drinking if not sure of the source of the water.
He said that mothers should also continue to breastfeed their babies having watery diarrhea.
“If you have been in contact with a cholera patient, wash your hands thoroughly after touching any item or surface that may have been contaminated and also dispose of contaminated items properly,” he said.
Idris noted that government has already evolved an inter-ministerial collaboration involving the Ministries of Health, Environment and Information, the Lagos State Waste Management Authority and the Lagos State Water Corporation, adding that health and environmental status assessment of prone communities is ongoing.
According to him, emergency preparedness and response committees at local government and state levels have been sensitized on preparedness and response to cholera outbreak, adding that government has also purchased and distributed to all health centers in local government areas of the state drugs for the management of the disease.
Idris said: “Healthcare workers in both public and private hospitals are also being sensitized on surveillance and management of cholera, fact sheet and information, enlightenment and communication materials on cholera have been distributed to all health workers in public hospitals while health education and public enlightenment on personal and environmental hygiene in epidemic prone communities have also been intensified.”
He urged health workers to be on the alert and report suspected outbreak of more than five cases in their facilities to the state Ministry of Health, stressing that people can also call the following numbers: 08023169485 or 0802321333 for assistance.
In the same vein, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lateef Aderemi Ibirogba, has urged members of the public to observe a high standard of personal and environmental hygiene.
Ibirogba said that the disease could be prevented if healthy living style is strictly observed and maintained.
He explained that his Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Health has stepped up public enlightenment campaign towards reducing the spread of the epidemic prone disease, especially in the communities and local government areas where it has been reported.
Ibirogba however urged members of the public share any information of suspected cases of the disease with the Ministry of Health, Information or any health facility.
He said this will help curtail the spread of the disease.