Contaminated Tiger nut drink responsible for cholera outbreak in Lagos – Dr Kemi

By Innocent Raphael

The Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Health, Dr. Kemi Ogunyemi, has explained that the recent outbreak of cholera which began between June 10th and 11th, 2024, was due to environmental factors and social determinants such as inadequate clean water and poor sanitation practices, exacerbated by the rainy season.

Speaking on how the state is grappling with a surge in cholera cases, primarily affecting Lagos Island, Kosofe, and Eti-Osa, Dr. Kemi pointed out that a significant factor in the spread was traced to a contaminated tiger nut drink in Eti-Osa.

According to her, investigations revealed the drink was unregistered and potentially unsafe, leading to extensive tracing and testing efforts. She added that stool samples confirmed the presence of Vibrio cholerae subtype 01, the most infectious and aggressive strain.

Despite proactive measures, she revealed that the death toll rose from 15 to 21, with more fatalities anticipated after the ‘Ileya’ celebrations.

The special Advisers further emphasized immediate hospital visits for those experiencing symptoms like abdominal pain, watery diarrhea, vomiting, muscle cramps, and rapid heart rate, stressing the importance of avoiding self-medication with antibiotics.

Reacting to the incident, health officials, in collaboration with Environmental Health Services, have intensified efforts to ensure clean environments and safe water supplies.

According to Dr. Kemi, rapid diagnostic tests are now available in hospitals, enabling prompt identification and treatment of cholera. Public awareness campaigns urge residents to maintain hygiene practices, such as regular handwashing and boiling water.

While noting that the outbreak’s impact is significant, disrupting daily life and spreading beyond Lagos due to travel, she revealed that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) and international organizations like UNICEF, the Red Cross, and the WHO are actively involved in monitoring and managing the situation.

While the NCDC has not declared a formal emergency, risk assessments continue. Schools remain open, and the government assures free treatment for cholera at public hospitals, aiming to alleviate financial concerns and encourage prompt medical attention.

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