NCDC begins probe as Sokoto records 164 cases of ‘strange disease’

Usman Abdullah
Usman Abdullah

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says it is investigating a mysterious illness that emerged in Isa LGA of Sokoto State.

Speaking with journalists, Jide Idris, NCDC director-general, said the strange illness was reported to the agency on March 21, 2024.

“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,” he said.

“Already, the NCDC has deployed a national rapid response team (NRRT) to collaborate with the state ministry of health to investigate the matter.

“So far, 164 suspected cases have been identified across six wards in Isa local government, resulting in four tragic fatalities.

“Notably, this is not the first occurrence, as a similar incident was documented in 2023. That one went without a conclusive diagnosis.”

He said that despite initial clinical assessments ruling out infectious origins, the search for causative factors continues, including heavy metal testing.

“Results indicate varying levels of lead and chromium in blood samples, prompting scrutiny of local activities such as mining and agricultural practices involving chemical usage,” he said.

“The collaborative efforts extend beyond health institutions, encompassing government agencies, research bodies, and community stakeholders.

“At the moment, security challenges hamper access to affected areas, complicating response efforts.”

The NCDC DG urged vigilance within affected communities, and appealed for prompt reporting of symptoms to healthcare facilities or designated authorities.

He also expressed condolences to families affected by the outbreak and commended the dedication of healthcare workers and partner organisations.

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