Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Sixteen persons have died in Ndungele community in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State following an outbreak of Yellow Fever in the area. Also, some of the villagers who have symptoms of the virus have been hospitalised.
This is coming 21 years after the state had had the ugly experience of Yellow fever outbreak.
The deaths were confirmed by the permanent secretary in the state Ministry of Health, Dr Chris Achi, who explained, however, that a response team had been despatched to the community to contain the scourge.
The permanent secretary explained that he got a distress call from a villager who told him that there were incessant deaths in the community within a short period which made him suspect that there could be a health emergency. He said he quickly sent a rapid response team to the area.
Achi said: “Somebody called me from one of the villages in Izzi Local Government Area that there was a way people were dying in the village; that he was suspecting that something might be wrong.
“I immediately called health workers working in the area who said no such case came to their clinic. I had to send our rapid-response team to visit the place. Regrettably, they got there and it was a case of Yellow fever and unfortunately we have had about 16 deaths from the place.
“Another set of the response team had to be moved to the place, conduct case search on those who already had the symptom. We immediately moved those still carrying the virus to the health facility at Ndungele and when it was serious we moved some to the virology centre here in Abakaliki,” he stated.
The permanent secretary regretted that the deaths would have been avoided if the people had approached the hospital when the symptoms began to manifest in the early stage.
“The problem about the outbreak was that our people did not believe that they would go to hospital when they experienced this yellowness of the eyes. They believe that it could be treated with local herbs. That was why we recorded casualties which should not have been.
“We have always insisted that people should make use of our health facilities. In every 171 political wards in Ebonyi State, we have one health centre that will serve them.”
He said that a team from the Federal Ministry of Health and the Centre for Disease Control have been in the state since two weeks ago having been notified about the development and they were all making efforts to ensure that the virus did not spread.
“We are equally doing much to ensure that it does not spread to other parts of the capital. Yellow fever is not transmitted from human to human. It can only be transmitted through mosquito bites.
“There are forest monkeys that equally carry Yellow fever virus and if a mosquito bites the monkey and bites somebody in the forest, within three days, the person will start having the Yellow fever virus.
“It will continue to transmit the virus that is the way the virus spread in January in Benue State. There was an outbreak of Yellow fever in Benue State, so we are tracing how it came to Ebonyi State.
“Some of the patients are still in the hospital but some have been discharged. The state government has provided all it takes to control the outbreak. All we want from our people is for them to report early.
“Yellow fever comes with fever, typhoid and if it is not dictated in time, it will start eating blood and the person will go to coma. Some of them will go into the renal, shot it down. That is why those who survived have to report to the hospital and go for renal test.
“It has an incubation period of three to six days in the human body and after that, it will start giving signs like fever.
“It is like the Aedes species of the mosquito that transmits the disease. The government wants to carry out a general awareness campaign. That is why we say every child aged nine months will be given Yellow fever vaccine,” he stated.