As the country grapples with the second wave of COVID-19, some states across the country now have renewed cases of yellow fever to contend with in addition to the pandemic. Yellow fever, a viral infection transmitted by infected mosquitoes, has reemerged as a public health threat in the country. Recent reports of more deaths from Yellow Fever across states of the federation have raised fears that a major outbreak of the disease is underway if efforts are not made to stem the tide. So far, about 76 deaths have been reported in Enugu, Delta and Bauchi States. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed yesterday 76 deaths in three states as a result of the yellow fever outbreak.
The Centre, in its situation report, said it is currently responding to the outbreaks in the three states of Bauchi, Delta and Enugu. NCDC stated: "On 1st, 2nd and 8th of November, clusters of cases and deaths were reported to NCDC by the State Epidemiologists of Delta, Enugu and Bauchi States respectively. "74 suspected cases with 35 deaths were reported from Delta State; 70 suspected cases with 33 deaths from Enugu State and 78 suspected cases with 8 deaths from Bauchi state "From the preliminary investigations, three samples from Delta (6th November), one sample from Enugu (6th November) and eight samples from Bauchi (8th November) were confirmed as yellow fever with PCR at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Gaduwa "Between the 1st and 11th of November 2020, a total of 222 suspected cases, 19 confirmed cases and 76 deaths have been reported from these three states." According to the report, most of the cases are males, with age ranging from 1-55 years and presented with fever, headache, fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting with or without blood, epistaxis, blood in stools/ urine, convulsion and unconsciousness.
The report further stated that "as at epiweek 41 this year, Nigeria has reported a total of eight confirmed cases of yellow fever from 7 LGAs across 4 states with no death among confirmed cases." To this effect, health experts have called on authorities to act quickly to ensure that accurate public health information is available and accessible to all as the infection could cause serious disease, including fever and jaundice (yellowness of the eyes) and even lead to death. Executive director of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, said,
"Almost 30 million Nigerians will be protected for life from these campaigns in the coming months with remarkable achievement by our health care workers and communities. We encourage all eligible persons in the state to come forward and get vaccinated. "Yellow fever outbreaks have re-emerged as serious public health concern since September 2017. The upcoming campaigns will help stop outbreaks and save lives". Responding to the recent outbreak of the disease in Delta and Enugu States, the NCDC said that the State Epidemiology Teams were leading the response with support from NCDC, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The NCDC said it has activated an incident management system to coordinate response activities and Rapid Response Teams (RRT) The global health body also said that since 2016, more than 54 million Nigerians have been protected against yellow fever through mass vaccination and reactive campaigns.
The organisation further stated that the 2020 campaigns represent an acceleration of the phased preventive mass vaccination campaign aimed to protect the country against yellow fever outbreaks. "The acceleration has been endorsed by the global strategy to Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) by 2026. Nigeria is a priority country for EYE Strategy. Over the duration of the strategy, it is expected that almost 180 million Nigerians will be protected against yellow fever through accelerated phased preventive mass vaccination campaigns". Meanwhile, few days after the unraveling of the cause of mysterious deaths that have claimed no fewer than 30 lives in the three agrarian communities of Ute-Opku, Idumuesa and Ute-Erumu all in the Ika North East local government area of Delta State, the people are still in grieve over the deaths of their loved ones. When LEADERSHIP Weekend visited Ute-Opku where the dead were buried it was observed that the people were yet to recover from the shock over the demise.
The state government has said that all hands were currently on deck to contain the ailments. Two of those who died as a result of the strange ailment were identified as Ifeoma Emeka and Onyeka Emeka from the same parents in the Ute-Opku community. Affected communities, families and sympathizers were seen in a sober state over the demise of their loved ones. A grieving mother, Mrs Emeka Veronica, who lost two of her grandchildren said the girl died on 30 September while the boy died three days after. She said, "The girl complained of a headache, cold and weakness. We took her to a Catholic hospital in Agbor where she died after four days, but the boy died the same day he complained of weakness.
They went for tests in the hospital, and they said it was malaria. "The boy complained of head and weakness and died the same day but the girl stayed for three days before she died. They were not vomiting. "Our young people are dying. Government should bring vaccine and drugs so that our people can get treated. I am the only person who lost two children to the strange disease in the neighbourhood. We appeal to the government and the governor, Ifeanyi Okowa to stop deaths in our communities.'' Another mother who lost a son said her 26-year-old son Chiwendu was constantly vomiting before he died. The lady who did not want her name in print added: "My son was only vomiting water because he wasn't eating anything. His brother said we should take him to the General Hospital in Agbor. When we got there, the doctors said it was not a serious case and gave him drugs. It was at midnight that he started gasping.
"We returned to the hospital where he was given drugs and the gasping stopped. We gave him pap but around 4am he started stretching himself; people held him and unfortunately he died after some minutes after. "I went to the Obi's Place to narrate what happened. People have been coming and I talked about what happened. I am tired of the explanation. I don't want to talk to anybody again. Will they bring him back alive? She asked adding that, the government should help them to stop the deaths. She said, "The boy was hard working. He wanted to launch his album on November 22. We have buried him because there was no point keeping him in the mortuary.'' Giving an update on the development, the state commissioner for health, Dr Mordi Ononye, said the sample results linked the deaths to yellow fever. Ononye said,
"The preliminary sample test carried out linked the mysterious deaths to yellow fever. Samples have been sent to the WHO Regional Reference Laboratory Center in Dakar, Senegal, for further confirmation. "We are taking steps to prevent the incident from escalating. The disease had claimed about 20 lives with over seven active cases being attended to at the Federal Medical Hospital, Asaba.''