Health Alert: Unregistered Tiger Nut Drinks Blamed for Lagos Cholera Outbreak

Dr Kemi Ogunyemi, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Health, discusses the cholera outbreak in the state with VICTORIA EDEME.

In response to the question about the primary causes of the recent cholera outbreak in Lagos State, Dr Ogunyemi explains that while Nigeria typically experiences isolated cases of cholera, a significant surge occurred between June 10th and 11th, 2024, marking an outbreak. The worst affected areas are Lagos Island, Kosofe, and Eti-Osa. She attributes the outbreak to predictable factors exacerbated during the rainy season, including inadequate access to clean water, reliance on contaminated wells, open defecation, flooding from overflowing canals, and poor sanitation practices. Despite initial increases, preventive campaigns and awareness efforts have contributed to a subsequent decline in cases.

Regarding specific factors contributing to increased cholera prevalence in identified areas, Dr Ogunyemi highlights an unexpected discovery during investigations in Eti-Osa. A common factor among patients was consumption of unregistered tiger nut drinks, prompting immediate action to trace and test these beverages. It was found that the producers had bypassed regulatory procedures, endangering public health. Despite challenges in tracing sources due to empty bottles and unreachable contacts, efforts continue with stool sample testing to confirm Vibrio cholera subtype 01, the predominant strain in affected regions.

Discussing symptoms beyond diarrhoea and vomiting, Dr Ogunyemi notes initial signs like abdominal pain, later progressing to severe dehydration if untreated. She stresses the urgency of medical attention upon symptom onset, reiterating the availability of free treatment at government health facilities. Collaboration with national and international health agencies such as UNICEF and the Red Cross enhances response capabilities, ensuring comprehensive community surveillance and real-time data analysis to manage and potentially contain the outbreak.

As for implications of a potential NCDC emergency declaration, Dr Ogunyemi assures ongoing risk assessments and proactive measures without disrupting daily life unnecessarily. With a focus on public awareness and hygiene practices, including the avoidance of self-medication with antibiotics, efforts aim to mitigate further spread while providing essential medical care and support to affected communities.

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Written by Joe

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